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D&D 3.5 vs 4.0 – Character Creation Challenge MAXIMUM!1!!

Posted by paradisio on June 25, 2009

Well first of all, if you’re a regular follower, you’re probably going… “Wut? You already did Dungeons and Dragons 4e!” Yes well, first, I have yet to do D&D 3.5 (or Chainmail, or 1…2…or 3, more on those later!) And I had an interesting idea, what if I put these two games side by side and did character creation? More precisely, what if I did it a maximum level to see how they compare? And that’s what I’m doing. As you may or may not know, 3.5 normally goes up to 20, but effectively has no maximum level with the epic level rules, but they are a total mess in my experience so I’m just going to do it to 20, while likewise doing 4e the same.

What class? Well, good question, but I wanted something, well, perhaps not so easy in either. So I pick the class in both which probably has the most options: Wizard. As per my normal CCC rules, I’m sticking to the core books, and not Wizard’s definition of “core”, that means players handbook (1) only and/or Dungeon Master’s Guide. Adding additional source books will just make this take longer and add to the complexity needlessly for a comparison. But unlike my usual CCC entries, I won’t actually post step by steps, I’ll do that some other time.

This isn’t “4e is better” or “4e is teh sux”, I actually like both editions, but 3.5 just has worn on me and I find it needlessly complex for my gaming needs. But I know some people like that, I think this will show in character creation. My estimates is that 4e will be significantly faster but have fewer options. I am including a time as well for how long it took me (includes writing the relevant section in this article), and as a disclaimer my experience in 3.5 far outweighs my 4e experience. Take this with a grain of salt, no need to get all worked up over my article or a fun game!

One last note, I did use as similar methods as possible. Both characters are Human, Wizards, Maximum level using the standard point buy. No extra rules, no helping programs, just books.

Edition 3.5 4
Race/Racial Information Human
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
1 Extra Feat at first level
Extra Skill Points
Languages: Common, Draconic, Sylvan, Undercommon
Size: Medium
Speed: 6
Vision: Normal
Languages: Human, Draconic
+2 to any one stat (Intelligence)
Bonus At-Will Power
Bonus Feat
Bonus Skill
Human Defense Bonus: +1 to Fortitude, Reflex and Will
Class 15 Wizard/5 Archmage Level 30 Wizard/Spellstorm Mage/Archmage
Attributes Str: 8
Dex: 19 (+4)
Con: 16 (+3)
Int: 33 (+11)
Wis: 10
Cha: 10
Str: 10
Dex: 12 (+1)
Con: 12 (+1)
Int: 28 (+9)
Wis: 22 (+6)
Cha: 13 (+1)
Stats/Defenses HP: 110
AC: 25
Fort +14
Ref +15
Will +18
Initiative +7
Speed: 6
HP: 153
Surge: 38
Surges/day: 7
Staff of Defense
Initiative +20
Speed: 7
AC: 44
Fort: 34
Ref: 42
Will: 39
Attack/Damage BAB +7/+2
To hit with ranged touch: +11
Spell DCs: 21/22/23/24/25/26/27/28/29/30
Standard to hit with int based spells/abilities: +30
Standard Damage bonus: +15
Skills Knowledge Arcana +34
Spellcraft +34
Concentration +25
Decipher Script +34
Knowledge (Everything Else) +16
Search +24
Arcane +29
History +29
Dungeoneering +26
Nature +29
Feats Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Spell Focus (Conjuration), Spell Focus (Transmutation), Craft Wondrous Item, Quicken Spell, Craft Wand, Improved initiative, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Spell Penetration, Greater Spell Penetration Ritual Caster, Armor Proficiency (Leather), Action Surge, Burning Blizzard, Expanded Spellbook, Human Perseverance, Improved Initiative, Toughness, Action Recovery, Blood Thirst, Devastating Critical, Great Fortitude, Fleet-Footed, Lightning Arc, Lightning Reflexes, Point-Blank Shot, Arcane Mastery, Epic Resurgence, Spell Accuracy, Irresistible Flame
Spells/Abilities/Rituals Summon Familiar (Toad)Spellbook:
0: All
1: 8 – Shield, Grease, Mage Armor, Mount, Obscuring Mist, Charm Person, Magic Missile, Tenser’s Floating Disk
2: 4 – Glitterdust, Melf’s Acid Arrow, Fog Cloud, Web
3: 4 – Dispel Magic, Hold Person, Fireball, Fly
4: 4 – Evard’s Black Tentacles, Solid Fog, Enervation, Wall of Fire
5: 4 – Dismissal, Cloudkill, Teleport, Wall of Stone
6: 4 – Greater Dispel Magic, Repulsion, Analyze Dweomer, True Seeing
7: 4 – Greater Teleport, Plane Shift, Prismatic Spray, Limited Wish
8: 4 – Clone, Polymorph Any Object, Temporal Stasis, Summon Monster VIII
9: 8 – Imprisonment, Mordenkainen’s Disjunction, Prismatic Sphere, Gate, Summon Monster IX, Power Word Kill, Shapechange

0: 4
1: 7
2: 7
3: 7
5: 4
6: 6
7: 5
8: 3
9: 4

High Arcana: Spell Power, Mastery of Shaping, Mastery of Elements, Arcane Fire, Spell Like Ability (Polymorph Any Object)

Wizard: Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, PrestidigitationAt Will (3): Magic Missile, Thunderwave, Cloud of Daggers

Encounter (P/27/23/17): Storm Cage, Confusion, Chain Lightning, Combust

Daily (P/29/25/19): Maelstrom of Chaos, Legion’s Hold/Meteor Swarm/Greater Ice Storm, Prismatic Spray/Necrotic Web/Elemental Maw, Disintegrate/Cloudkill/Evard’s Black Tentacles

Utility (E/P/22/16/10/6/2): Shape Magic, Sudden Storm, Time Stop/Mass Fly, Displacement/Greater Invisibility, Blur/Mirror Image, Dimension Door/Dispel Magic, Expeditious Retreat/Shield

Rituals: Comprehend Languages, Make Whole, Tenser’s Floating Disk, Brew Potion, Knock, Raise Dead, Disenchant Magic Item, View Location, Passwall, Consult Oracle, Planar Portal, Forbiddance, Observe Creature

Equipment/Money Ring of Protection +5
Tome of Clear Though (+5 Int)
Strand of Prayer Beads
Slippers of Spider Climbing
Headband of Intellect +6
Cloak of Resistance +5
Bracers of Armor +6
Bag of Holding Type IV
Amulet of Health +6
Big Carpet of Flying
Manual of Quickness in Action (+5 dex)
Cloak of Invisibility +5
Staff of Storms +6
Starleather Bloodcut Armor +6
Boots of the Infinite Stride
Ring of Wizardry
Handy Haversack
2x Potion of Recovery
Everlasting Provisions
Time to Complete 1 Hour 54 Minutes

Well, these aren’t exactly going to hit the character optimization boards, but I think they are reasonable characters that someone would create on the fly for a high level campaign. Frankly, I found 4e high level creation be much more fun, making a high level character is 3.5 was a pain because I had to go back and figure out at what points I had what intelligence score. I had quite a bit of money left over on both characters, more than enough to slide in some equipment to plug up any holes.

It only took me a few more minutes to make a 3.5 character, but that’s with years of experience in the system and knowing most of the spells I wanted already almost by heart.

Interestingly, without buying any scrolls the base characters don’t have a huge divergence in the sheer number of abilities/spells. 4e had 46 spells/abilities/rituals while in 3.5 my character has 47 spells available at any one time; difference being I have more customization in the latter.

Honestly though, in the end, I found 4e character creation much more enjoyable, but I’m a bit jaded after a few years of playing 3.5.

Hopefully, this has proved interesting or maybe even a little entertaining. In the end, I think both systems are great, just pick the one that’s right for you, it really boils down to a single question in my opinion: do you want detail or ease of use?



4 Responses to “D&D 3.5 vs 4.0 – Character Creation Challenge MAXIMUM!1!!”

  1. khansgod01 said

    Your “jaded”?? Well you seem to like 4th ED so much, enjoy. I hope you like the premade characters, they are a BORE!!! Thats what 4th feels like; cardboard cutouts. You choose what character you play, and you pretty much are done. There is MUCH more versitility in 3.5 then 4th will ever have! And thats what I like.

  2. Rick said

    Sadly, both systems were too complex for me to play with. Too many modifiers which affect everything else, making me reference the three main books and character sheets over and over again.

  3. Rick said

    No, I don’t consider playing for months or a year or years to remember 4th or 3.5 rules to be a necessary rote for understanding all basic intricacies in dealing with combat, damage, and modifiers for those events. Two to three months should have made it quite clear, but perhaps I’m just not good enough with relating numbers to intimate thoughts, ideas, or words.

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