The creators of Dungeons & Dragons were faced with the monumental task of having to map out the rules for an entire fictional reality. This meant coming up with rules for everything from physics, to the lengths that someone can jump with a running start, and even how long it takes for an average sized adult to drown when held underwater.
These rules generally weren’t that well thought out, which is what led to rampant abuse among canny players who were smart enough to see how the world around them could be twisted for their own ends.
There were some Dungeons & Dragons rules that had the potential to derail the game entirely. This would often force the creators to issue official errata that was meant to overwrite the rules that were printed in the books. There were even occasions when the rules were so screwed up that an entirely new edition had to be made in order to fix all of the loopholes.
We are here today to look at the Dungeons & Dragons rules that were so broken that the creators had to step in so that they couldn’t be abused anymore.
From the one amazing ranger level to the most rewritten spell in the entire game, here are the 15 Dungeons & Dragons Rules So Broken That They Had To Be Changed!
15. The One Ranger Level
The ranger class that appeared in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons had numerous empty levels that gave no new abilities throughout its progression. The ranger also happened to be an incredibly popular class, due to the abundance of abilities they gained at first level.
A first level ranger in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons received the Track feat, a favored enemy, and the Ambidextrous/Two-Weapon Fighting feats while wearing light (or no) armor. This meant that lots of players would take a single level in ranger in order to reap all of the benefits and then jump to a better class.
One of the biggest changes made to the updated 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons was totally reworking the ranger so that their abilities were spread out over their later levels, which gave you more of an incentive to stick with the class.
14. The Endless Attack
Combat encounters in each edition of Dungeons & Dragons are broken down into rounds, which are supposed to take a couple of seconds of time. This brief period of time helps to show how much stronger the physical attackers become as they level up, due to the increase in the number of attacks they can make each round.
There was one ability in the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons that threw the concept of time out of the window. The 15th level ranger ability called “Blade Cascade” allowed the player to keep making attacks until they missed.
This was an amazingly broken ability, as there are many ways to increase a player’s accuracy in Dungeons & Dragons. A player who chooses the right build could make a character who could perform infinite attacks.
13. The Whale Wall
The ability to summon monsters into battle has belonged to magic-using characters throughout the history of Dungeons & Dragons. The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons helped to codify this with the nine Summon Monster spells that each allowed you to choose from a list of creatures and temporarily conjure them to fight at your side.
The Summon Monsters spells offered aquatic creatures which were generally bigger and stronger than the other beasts on the list, due to how limited their use would be in most situations.
The 3.5 edition of the game had to change the description of the Summon Monster spells to clarify that creatures can only be summoned into an environment that can support them, such as aquatic creatures in the water.
The reason this rule was added was that players were summoning huge aquatic animals to act as temporary walls in order to slow down the enemy, or conjuring them above the enemy and using them as a crushing weapon.
12. The Killer Whirlwind
The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons tried to make the fighter class more exciting by giving them lots of feats (abilities that you chose outside of your class) to pick from. One of these feats was Whirlwind Attack, which allowed you to perform a single attack on every enemy in the area around you.
The 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons changed Whirlwind Attack so that it couldn’t be combined with other abilities. This was due to a tactic known as the “Bag of Rats” trick.
Players used to combine Whirlwind Attack with Great Cleave, which gave you a free hit on another enemy if you killed an enemy this turn with a melee attack. Fighters would then engage an enemy in combat and dump a bag of rats around them. They would then use Whirlwind Attack on the next turn and gain a free hit on the enemy for every rat that they killed.
11. Stacking The Criticals
One of the most exciting moments in any Dungeons & Dragon battle is the moment when a character or enemy scores a critical hit. These are the times when the tide of battle can shift in a moment, with a mighty enemy or powerful hero being struck down with a single blow.
The vast majority of weapons in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons would only score a critical hit by rolling a 20 on a twenty-sided dice. There were a few weapons with a higher range (such as 19 or 18) but these were usually weaker in terms of damage.
The 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons prevented several abilities that increased the critical hit threat range from stacking with each other. This was because people would create weapons with the Keen enchantment and combine them with Improved Critical feat so that they would score a critical hit on a 13 or higher.
10. No Harm In Playing A Cleric
The main role of the cleric in Dungeons & Dragons is to heal the party and deal a ton of damage to undead creatures with their sheer holiness. There are also evil clerics that have the ability to drain the vitality from their foes and make their undead servants even more powerful.
Clerics once had access to the most powerful damaging spell in the game. The Harm spell in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons required you to successfully touch the enemy.
If you did, then they were reduced to around four hit points of health, regardless of what they had before. There was no saving throw for Harm‘s effect that could protect you from damage.
9. Magic, Metal, and Stone
Stoneskin used to be one of the best defensive spells in Dungeons & Dragons. The version of Stoneskin that appeared in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons covered the caster in several layers of stone, which would each protect them from a single hit.
The later versions of Stoneskin simply reduced the amount of damage the caster would take each turn from physical attacks.
The version of Stoneskin that appeared in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons was almost impossible to bypass, as it could only be ignored by a weapon with a +5 enchantment, which are generally the most powerful weapons in the world. The 3.5 edition of Stoneskin toned down the spell significantly so that weapons made of adamantite could bypass its effect.
8. The Mighty Half-Elves
Half-elves have been changed a great deal throughout Dungeons & Dragons in terms of their usefulness in combat.
The half-elves in the second edition of Dungeons & Dragons had some of the best multi-class options in the game, while the half-elves in the third edition were outclassed by every other race in the Player’s Handbook. There was no reason not to just choose a human or elf instead.
The 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons accidentally made half-elves too good. This was due to their racial trait ability known as Dilettante, which allowed them to choose any at-will attack power for free, so long as it belonged to a different class than their own.
7. Changing The Animal Bro Rules
One of the biggest changes to the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons was to the animal companion rules. Druids and rangers were allowed to choose animals that acted as permanent allies, who could accompany them on adventures.
The animal companion ability has been controversial to some players, as it essentially gives the druid/ranger a second character that has most of the abilities of a player but doesn’t earn a share of the experience points.
The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons allowed the druid/ranger to earn more animal companions through the Animal Friendship spell, which meant that they could eventually control a whole horde of creatures that could perform tasks that outstripped spells of the same level, such as scouting over a wide area or swarming foes.
6. Psychic Steroids
You would think that psychic powers would fit right in with the fantasy setting of a Dungeons & Dragons world, but you would be wrong. The vast majority of players and dungeon masters alike hate psionic rules, due to how poorly implemented they usually are.
It doesn’t help that one of the most hated and feared enemies in the game is the mind flayer, which relies on psychic powers to easily take down entire parties of adventurers.
The most feared ability of a psychic character is Psychofeedback, which allowed the player to spend power points to temporarily increase their stats to sky-high levels.
5. The Pixie Army
Fairies might seem like they would be the weakest creatures in Dungeons & Dragons, but their connection to magic actually makes them some of the most potent enemies you could ever encounter. The fey possess the ability to ensnare the minds of others and force them to do their bidding, which makes them terrifying to many players.
Pixies briefly became the most feared creatures in the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. This was due to a spell called Conjure Woodland Beings, which allowed you to summon eight pixies into battle.
These pixies all possess the ability to cast Polymorph, which allows them to turn an enemy into a dung beetle, should they fail one of the eight saving throws that they had to make.
4. Kissing Toads Makes You Healthier
Sorcerers and wizards possess the ability to form a magical bond with an animal, which then becomes their familiar. Having a familiar will deepen the spellcaster’s understanding of the magical world, though the death of the creature will cause actual physical damage and deep emotional distress.
The worst familiar to get in the second edition of Dungeons & Dragons was a toad, due to its total lack of abilities. This caused the creators of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons to go totally overboard and make the toad the best familiar in the game, as it granted its master two points to their Constitution stat.
No other familiar in the game gave stat points, as they mostly just gave bonuses to specific skills.
3. The Human Statues
One of the biggest reasons why spellcasters are so powerful compared to the physical fighters in Dungeons & Dragons is due to the numerous spells that can incapacitate someone with a single failed saving throw.
The most powerful enchantment spell during the early stages of any third edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign is Hold Person. This is a ranged spell that forces the enemy to make a saving throw or be paralyzed for at least three rounds. This is usually more than enough time for the rest of the party to slaughter the frozen creature before it can respond.
2. The Speed Force
The most useful stat in any tabletop RPG is usually the one related to speed. A high agility often means that a character has better accuracy, is harder to hit, and can take more actions each turn.
The Haste spell is considered by many to be the most useful low-level magical spell in all of Dungeons & Dragons. This is due to the fact that it allows the players to take more actions each turn.
Haste was powerful in the second edition of Dungeons & Dragons, but it came with the weakness of aging the user by a year each time it was cast. The third edition version of Haste lacked this weakness, which made it incredibly overpowered.
The 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons totally changed how Haste worked, which essentially made it a brand new spell. Haste now gave an extra attack during a full attack action and gave a few stat buffs.
1. The Ever-Changing Polymorph
The ability to turn into another creature is something that is seen a lot in fantasy stories. This is due to the human desire to change your appearance and to become something that could fly in the sky or swim beneath the waves.
Shapeshifting has also caused a lot of headaches for both the players of Dungeons & Dragons and the people who create the game. The Polymorph spell has undergone more revisions than another ability in the entirety of the history of Dungeons & Dragons.
The reason Polymorph is so broken is due to the fact that it allows the player to transform into much more powerful creatures and gain access to abilities that they shouldn’t normally have, while also allowing them to turn their enemies into insects with a single failed saving throw.
The version of Polymorph and Polymorph Other that appeared in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons was so overpowered that it forced Wizards of the Coast to release several different errata documents that nerfed the spell with each new revision.
The spell kept on needing to be changed, as players still found ways to abuse the ability to transform themselves and others into different creatures.
Can you think of any other Dungeons & Dragons rules that had to be changed? Let us know in the comments!
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