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View Full Version : [3.5] What books do count as "official" and which as splat?



Chrizzt
2010-08-31, 05:38 AM
Hello folks!

There are three sorts of books for D&D:

A) There are the "official" Dungeons&Dragons books, like PHB, DMG, Complete Arcane, etc etc.

B) Then there are third party splat books, like those from Green Ronin Press, and so on.

C) AND THEN there are books that are Wizards of the Coast licensed, like the Dragonlance Campaign Setting, or the Ravenloft Setting books from Sword and Sorcery.

My Question: Are the books filed under category C official in the sense of A? Or would you count them as splat books?

Dragonlance Campaign Setting seems quite official for me. Would you allow books from C in your campaign? (Many DMs are a little bit picky concerning the material they allow. Dragon Magazine, on the other hand, is also official, but often not allowed).

Swooper
2010-08-31, 05:42 AM
I don't see why the distinction matters. I allow 3rd party stuff in my campaign on a case-by-case basis anyway.

hamishspence
2010-08-31, 05:43 AM
The Diablo books (Diablerie, To Hell & Back) were published by WoTC- and utilize D&D mechanics- so they might count.

Call of Cthulhu D20 (also WoTC) has suggestions for incorporating its content into a D&D game- adding alignments to the monsters, and giving them specified amounts of treasure, rules for the spells in the book, and so on.

KillianHawkeye
2010-08-31, 07:29 AM
I think there's a problem with your semantics. There are D&D core books and there are splat books (Complete Arcane is a splat book). There are also third party books which are usually splat books. Any or all of these may or may not be about a specific campaign setting.

Personally, I don't see a meaningful difference between being published by WotC and being licensed by WotC. If it has a WotC logo and an official D&D logo, it's an official D&D book by WotC.



In my games, pretty much all material from official WotC books that aren't part of a specific campaign setting is allowed. I run "generic" 3.5, and I don't own any 3rd-party books. No Dragon Magazine content, either. If I don't own it or have access to it, it's not allowed in my games.

AslanCross
2010-08-31, 08:04 AM
Official books are anything with the WOTC logo on them. Both core (PHB, DMG, MM) and splatbooks (aka supplements) fall under this.

There are also third-party books, which are supplements.

Since I mostly run Eberron, I allow any Eberron book and any other non-setting specific books. I don't own any third party books since they never get shipped to this country, so they're understandably not allowed.

hamishspence
2010-08-31, 08:06 AM
Given that numerous monsters (and, I think, some spells) in Faerun books used to exist in non-Faerun settings in earlier editions, I figure most things in Faerun books are OK in generic D&D.

dsmiles
2010-08-31, 08:09 AM
I'm going to have to say that the PHM, MM, and DMG are the "core" DnD books. Everything else is splatbooks. 3rd party stuff is definitely splatbook material, and in my campaigns is allowed on a case-by case basis. But then again, WoTC material is also only allowed on a case-by-case basis unless it comes out of the PHB1, MM1, or DMG1.

hamishspence
2010-08-31, 08:12 AM
Even core stuff can end up being allowed only on a case by case basis, given how breakable it is (Candles of Invocation, and the Leadership feat, spring to mind.)

dsmiles
2010-08-31, 08:16 AM
Even core stuff can end up being allowed only on a case by case basis, given how breakable it is (Candles of Invocation, and the Leadership feat, spring to mind.)

None of the guys I game with has ever broken the stuff in the PHB, so until proven otherwise, I allow it. If it gets broken, RAW stands for that session, and the houserule to fix the rule in question takes effect at the start of the next session.

hamishspence
2010-08-31, 08:23 AM
Makes sense.

Altair_the_Vexed
2010-08-31, 08:29 AM
I've not seen this sort of a split between material before - usually it's between core three (PHB, DMG, MM) and others.

hamishspence
2010-08-31, 08:31 AM
"Core", "non-core but official" and "third party" is what I've seen as the most common division.

Maybe with Rules Compendium in a special "non-core, but overrides core for determining what the "official" rules are" class.

KillianHawkeye
2010-08-31, 08:49 AM
Maybe with Rules Compendium in a special "non-core, but overrides core for determining what the "official" rules are" class.

I generally treat Rules Compendium as though it was official errata (even though technically it's not). Mostly I just like the book because it's easier to look stuff up.

Tyndmyr
2010-08-31, 08:54 AM
None of the guys I game with has ever broken the stuff in the PHB, so until proven otherwise, I allow it. If it gets broken, RAW stands for that session, and the houserule to fix the rule in question takes effect at the start of the next session.

If thats the case, then you shouldn't have any problem with any official material I've seen, or any 3rd party stuff either, for that matter.

Most of it's pretty decent if people simply have the courtesy to not try to break the game.

dsmiles
2010-08-31, 09:07 AM
If thats the case, then you shouldn't have any problem with any official material I've seen, or any 3rd party stuff either, for that matter.

Most of it's pretty decent if people simply have the courtesy to not try to break the game.

I don't think I've ever disallowed anything as a DM, but I do want to see what they are capable of before I allow them in the campaign. That's mostly why I say that you have to have "prior approval."

I take that back. Vancian magic and Incarnum magic are disallowed. As I've pointed out in other threads, I use the magic system from The Slayers d20.

Greenish
2010-08-31, 09:26 AM
I don't think I've ever disallowed anything as a DMů

I take that back. Vancian magic and Incarnum magic are disallowed. As I've pointed out in other threads, I use the magic system from The Slayers d20.I can see how dethroning vancian magic is cool for changing the tone, but why is meldshaping blanket-banned?

dsmiles
2010-08-31, 09:31 AM
I can see how dethroning vancian magic is cool for changing the tone, but why is meldshaping blanket-banned?

Like I said, I use the magic system from The Slayers d20. "Phenomenal cosmic power" comes at a price. You take NL damage for casting. Run out of NL hit points, and you take lethal damage. You can, in theory, cast yourself to death. I like the idea of the caster using his/her own personal energy to cast a spell. No price to pay = no magic, in my campaign worlds. Also, using this system kind of automatically disallows clerics and "standard" healing spells by default. There is a priest, but it is more "wandering priest" than "cleric."

EDIT: But that was 3.5. I've switched to exclusively 4e now.

EDIT, EDIT again: If someone had worked up the conversion for Incarnum magic to come at the same type of price as standard magic, within that system, I may have allowed it, if it was in keeping with the theme of the campaign world.

Greenish
2010-08-31, 09:38 AM
Like I said, I use the magic system from The Slayers d20. "Phenomenal cosmic power" comes at a price. You take NL damage for casting. Run out of NL hit points, and you take lethal damage. You can, in theory, cast yourself to death. I like the idea of the caster using his/her own personal energy to cast a spell.So in fact you meant that you removed all casting systems in favour of the slayer thingy. (That is, vancian, psionics, invoking, shadowcasting, binding, truenaming and meldshaping.)

I thought you had only banned vancian and meldshaping, and was trying to see a rhyme or reason in that. :smallamused:

dsmiles
2010-08-31, 09:45 AM
So in fact you meant that you removed all casting systems in favour of the slayer thingy. (That is, vancian, psionics, invoking, shadowcasting, binding, truenaming and meldshaping.)

I thought you had only banned vancian and meldshaping, and was trying to see a rhyme or reason in that. :smallamused:

No, one of my players did a conversion for warlocks, and psionics was never in question (nobody except me, in my group, really used psionics, and I was DMing so...no psionics got used). If you haven't read that magic system, I'd recommend it, it's a fun (at best, or interesting at the worst) read.

EDIT: Truenaming? somebody uses that?:smalltongue:

Greenish
2010-08-31, 09:53 AM
EDIT: Truenaming? somebody uses that?:smalltongue:I hear some people play FATAL, too. :smallamused:

dsmiles
2010-08-31, 09:53 AM
I hear some people play FATAL, too. :smallamused:

I actually started to try to read the rules for that once. Once. :smalleek:

Tyndmyr
2010-09-01, 12:28 AM
I don't think I've ever disallowed anything as a DM, but I do want to see what they are capable of before I allow them in the campaign. That's mostly why I say that you have to have "prior approval."

I take that back. Vancian magic and Incarnum magic are disallowed. As I've pointed out in other threads, I use the magic system from The Slayers d20.

Whatever works, I guess. I have a very small ban list, and don't bother preapproving sheets.

No infinite combos, no tainted casting. Everything else first party is automatically ok. Anything third party I do have to look at first, though. It's generally ok. Most 3rd party stuff is frankly underpowered anyway.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-01, 02:53 AM
There seems to be some confusion here about what the term "splat" means.

It does not mean an unofficial or third-party book. Rather, it means one of a series of similarly-named expansion books.

For instance, 2E had the Complete Warrior, Complete Wizard, Complete Dwarf, and so forth handbooks. Collectively, these are called the "Complete * books", where * is a wild card (as in, "*.txt"). An alternative term for * is splat.

Similarly, Whitewolf has the Clanbook*, 3E has different Complete* books, and 4E has the *Power books.

Drakevarg
2010-09-01, 03:33 AM
In my head, at least, there are four categories:

Core: PHB, DMG, and MM, exclusively.
Non-Core But Official: Libris Mortis, Complete Warrior, Draconomicon, things like that.
Official But Setting-Specific: Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and the like.
Third Party: Can't think of any examples, since I never touch the stuff.

dsmiles
2010-09-01, 04:33 AM
Third Party: Can't think of any examples, since I never touch the stuff.

I actually use a lot of 3rd party stuff, I find it to be more interesting than the standard "Wizard tested, Wizard approved" stuff. Though frankly, I doubt that they ever test their products before publishing them.

@Tyndmyr: "Tainted" casting? Refresh my memory. That's out of OA? And I like to see what they're capable of so I can design challenging encounters (read: combat encounters).

hamishspence
2010-09-01, 05:44 AM
There's several versions of the Taint mechanic- one in Oriental Adventures, one in Unearthed Arcana, one in Heroes of Horror.

The Heroes of Horror Tainted Scholar PRC is the one that's pretty much broken- if the PC's type is undead (via Necropolitan, or some similar method).

Tyndmyr
2010-09-01, 07:04 AM
I actually use a lot of 3rd party stuff, I find it to be more interesting than the standard "Wizard tested, Wizard approved" stuff. Though frankly, I doubt that they ever test their products before publishing them.

@Tyndmyr: "Tainted" casting? Refresh my memory. That's out of OA? And I like to see what they're capable of so I can design challenging encounters (read: combat encounters).

Heroes of Horror is where taint's from, IIRC. Tainted Scholar is the obvious offender. The big issue with it is that it automatically breaks itself. Many builds can be broken by a clever player, but it takes an extremely bad class to force you into it. It makes your quantity of spells and DC of such spells, for instance, scale based on your taint. Of course, the fluff describes taint as making you evil, and thus, more likely to pick up more taint. Lest I forget, taint also grants free feats.

Now, the class makes you immune to all negative effects of taint, so you just pick up more indefinitely as it feeds off itself. The class even has a will save to take levels in classes other than itself. Of all the mechanics I've seen in D&D, it's the one most likely to sound cool to an innocent newbie, but make them accidentally shatter anything like balance.

There's a few fascinating 3rd party things, yeah. There was one spell that erased the very concept of a single word from someone's mind. They still know it's there, somehow, but they just can't express it in any way. If that doesn't have epic potential for roleplaying, I don't what does.

Zaydos
2010-09-01, 07:34 AM
I typically allow most official 3.5 material, although I'm wary of some things (mostly FR due to my first introduction to it being in discussions about broken things it introduced, and my 2nd being Elminster, 3rd being more discussions about it being broken, 4th Incanatrix, 5th Pun-Pun). I don't allow things from books I don't have so this limits 3rd party material. I have seen and used Encyclopedia Arcane material, although I keep a tight rein on it because the power level varies widely (the spells tend to be alright, the feats too, some of the PrCs are strictly class + extra goodies [there's one that gets full casting, 3 or 4 bonus feats, lore, most of loremaster's spell-likes, extra skill points, and only requires 1 or 2 feats that you are likely to take anyway to get in], and some are even worse). I have some of the Sword and Sorcery books (mostly Creature Collections but also Relics and Rituals and a few others) and I was scared off of them for a time when I realized just how bad the CRs in the Creature Collection were (it came out before the Monster Manual or so the book says) but they did get better.

In the case of Dragon Magazine material I look it over because while I love it, some of it is not the most balanced.

I put Dragonlance in with the other Campaign Setting stuff because I've read over it and it is relatively balanced.

dsmiles
2010-09-01, 09:49 AM
There was one spell that erased the very concept of a single word from someone's mind. They still know it's there, somehow, but they just can't express it in any way. If that doesn't have epic potential for roleplaying, I don't what does.
That does sound kind of epic. The BBEG erases the paladin's concept of 'evil.'

Kurald Galain
2010-09-01, 09:53 AM
That does sound kind of epic. The BBEG erases the paladin's concept of 'evil.'

"Smite ... er... something?"

The Big Dice
2010-09-01, 09:59 AM
Heroes of Horror is where taint's from, IIRC.
I'm reasonably sure taint is from Rokugan, which WotC owned for a little while. It's short for the Shadowlands Taint if it is.

And it's nowhere near as scary or powerful in D&D as it was in older editions of L5R.

Boren
2010-09-01, 12:30 PM
If thats the case, then you shouldn't have any problem with any official material I've seen, or any 3rd party stuff either, for that matter.

Most of it's pretty decent if people simply have the courtesy to not try to break the game.
Most 3rd party stuff is fine. I was reading a 3rd party book the other day (old 3.0 one at that) and I was realizing just how many spells in it were incorporated into official and some even core 3.5 stuff. So I would say most 3rd party stuff is ok but I still call case by case for my games.

Greenish
2010-09-01, 01:38 PM
I'm reasonably sure taint is from Rokugan, which WotC owned for a little while. It's short for the Shadowlands Taint if it is.As has been pointed out, there are three different taint systems. Now, where was that "WotC needs a thesaurus" threadů

Tyndmyr
2010-09-01, 02:02 PM
That does sound kind of epic. The BBEG erases the paladin's concept of 'evil.'

The evil caster PC I gave it to experimented with it quite a lot. It started out with things like "assassin" to cover his tracks. This was of moderate use, but you still have a screaming guy running, even if he cant quite form a sentance properly. Guards still tend to look into the matter. He later began to experiment with words like "happiness" or "love". It got pretty interesting.

I dare say it should be an evil spell, given that any use of it is likely harmful.

PlzBreakMyCmpAn
2010-09-03, 01:15 AM
Again I feel like taking over this thread idea and doing it right over at BG. Preliminary work finished, waiting until my No Hit, No Save, No SR (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=9207.0) thread finishes.