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Dungeons & Dragons (3rd Edition) (2000–2003) made major simplifications to the rules of Dungeons & Dragons by using the d20 System (which was originally created specifically for D&D 3.0) based on roll-over used in Gamma World long ago. The simplification was comprehensive enough to mean that nearly all character actions will fall into one of three areas — combat, skills, and magic. This means that 3rd edition is also more flexible than 2nd; skills and abilities are more universal, with every class being able to attempt actions like "bluff" or "hide", whereas only specific classes had access to them before.

By far the biggest change from previous editions of D&D was the opening up of every character class to every race. No more were nonhuman races either disallowed from taking certain classes or level-restricted on the classes that they could take; and for powerful and unusual creatures what was racial HD is treated as "class". The standard level limit was set at 20 (higher levels were covered in the Epic Level Handbook), again without racial restrictions of any kind, although each race had a "favored class" that factored into multiclassing. The previous, crufty system of "weapon proficiency slots" was revamped into a somewhat-less-crufty system of Feats. Overall, the game became a lot simpler to use without losing very much of its depth. In addition, much of the material thrown out in 2nd edition — half-orcs, monks, battles with demons, and so on, were added back in (some in the core rulebooks, others in supplements).

3rd Edition also saw owner Wizards of the Coast create the Open Game License, a copyright structure permitting third-party game developers to sell derivative game materials using the d20 System.

Dungeons & Dragons (3.5 edition) (2003–2007) was an effort to rebalance and fix up 3rd edition. It consisted of lots of little fixes and additional content while trying not to render obsolete what came before. However, the gradual shift from attempts to model the game world to an abstract "chess rules balance" approach becomes rather obvious. Individual settings are routinely treated much more invasively at this point, starting with "how to shoehorn this into X" advice on everything.

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    Core Rulebooks 
  • Player's Handbook: Core Rulebook I (2000)
  • Dungeon Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II (2000)
  • Monster Manual: Core Rulebook III (2000)
  • Epic Level Handbook (2001)
  • Monster Manual II (2002)
  • Fiend Folio (2003)
  • Player's Handbook: Core Rulebook I v.3.5 (2003)
  • Dungeon Master's Guide: Core Rulebook II v.3.5 (2003)
  • Monster Manual: Core Rulebook III v.3.5 (2003)
  • Monster Manual III (2004)
  • Dungeon Master's Guide II (2005)
  • Player's Handbook II (2006)
  • Monster Manual IV (2006)
  • Monster Manual V (2007)

    Supported Campaign Settings 
  • Birthright: Wizards of the Coast gave its blessing to a fan-made crowdsourced update to 3E.
  • Dark Sun: Received third-party updates for both editions.
  • Dragonlance: Received a line of around a dozen sourcebooks during 3.5 Edition, and a three-volume campaign titled Age of Mortals. The IP was discontinued in 2007, before 4E's announcement, to be Un-Cancelled in 2022 late in 5E's run.
  • Eberron: Debuted during 3.5 Edition.
  • Forgotten Realms: The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting released with 3E. The Player's Guide to Faerûn advanced the In-Universe timeline two years to 3.5E. The sub-settings on continents besides Faerûn were not officially supported in this edition aside from some Paizo-published Dragon articles, although the settingless Oriental Adventures rulebook is easily re-fluffed to cover Kara-tur.
  • Ghostwalk: Developed as a single book for 3rd Edition.
  • Greyhawk: 3.5E was the last edition in which Greyhawk was listed as the default setting of the core rulebooks. For the most part only the deities are directly mentioned.
  • Kingdoms Of Kalamar: Licensed as an official 3E setting. The license was not renewed in 2007.
  • Pathfinder: The Golarion setting and the first four Pathfinder Adventure Paths were originally written for 3.5E under the Open Game License after Wizards took back the Dragon rights from Paizo Publishing. Paizo developed and marketed its own 3.5-derived d20 System ruleset, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, beginning with 2009's Council of Thieves Adventure Path, which is compatible with both systems.
  • Ravenloft: Received an official campaign setting book from Wizards for 3E; subsequent materials were published in White Wolf's Sword & Sorcery brand under license. Wizards also released a rules update of the classic adventure module Expedition to Castle Ravenloft.
  • Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game: Published by White Wolf's Sword & Sorcery brand under the Open Game License.

    Adaptations 

Dungeons & Dragons (3rd Edition) provides examples of:

  • Ability Depletion Penalty:
    • In 3.0, some psionic abilities function only while the character has a minimum number of power points remaining. In 3.5 these abilities instead function only while the character is maintaining "psionic focus" (a type of psychic charge which can be built up, then expended for certain benefits); however, a character cannot retain psionic focus while their power point reserve is completely empty.
    • In 3.5th Edition, "Reserve Feats" grant a character a supernatural ability that's usable at will, so long as they have a spell of a specific type and minimum level available to cast. If they exhaust all their spell slots or castings of that spell, the ability goes offline until they're replenished.
    • The Helm of Brilliance grants its wearer several passive benefits and a limited pool of light- and fire-based spells. The passive benefits are permanently lost when the last of the spells is expended — bad luck to anyone who needs to light a room badly enough to forfeit their fire resistance and ability to create flaming weapons.
    • The Jaunter Prestige Class grants a number of "Travel Power" daily uses, and a +1 bonus to armor class — but the latter only as long as they have one remaining Travel Power use.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: After the release of the Epic Level Handbook in 3rd Edition, there was no level cap. In theory, you could make a level one million character if you took the time to do it. No sane Dungeon Master would ever let you use it, or put the time into running a campaign where it could be used, but it was still possible according to the rules and game mechanics (if only in theory).
  • All Swords Are the Same: 3rd edition uses this trope to some extent, only requiring proficiency for exotic weapons and drawing less of a distinction between different sorts of swords.
  • Animal-Themed Fighting Style:
    • The Unearthed Arcana proposes an array of fighting styles that can be adopted by monk characters as alternate class features, giving the opportunity to learn some special ability in exchange for a more rigid feat progression. Among them:
      • The "Cobra Strike" school of martial arts emulates the venomous snake's deadly fast strikes, emphasizing mobility and accuracy. The masters of this style have a reputation for cruel training methods resulting in skilled but hardened students, with rumors of dire fates for those who fail their teachings.
      • The "Sleeping Tiger" style uses powerful strikes and smooth motions, favoring ambushes and a first-strike approach, just like the tiger it is named after. It is a rare and challenging style, requiring lots of strength and agility to properly master.
    • The Tome of Battle – Book of Nine Swords introduces nine martial disciplines with poetic names, two of them invoking animals:
      • The "Tiger Claw" discipline makes use of short slashing weapons (including actual claws) and emphasizes jumping on the enemy, close contact combat and bloodlust. Several of its maneuvers are also named after ferocious animals, such as the wolf, wolverine, mongoose, bear or girallon.
      • The "White Raven" discipline, on the other hand, favors cooperation and group tactics, like a flock of ravens.
    • A couple tactical feats, each granting three separate maneuvers, are also animal-inspired:
      • "Drow Scorpion Warrior", only mastered by the dark elves, studies the deadly tactics of the scorpion, and its maneuvers are called Deadly Sting, Lunging Sting and Rending Sting.
      • "Raptor School" is a set of martial arts technique inspired by hunting birds, including Eagle's Swoop, Falcon's Feathers and Hawk's Eye.
  • Answer to Prayers: In all editions, clerics are described as preparing their spells for the day by praying for them to their Patron God. Depending on how fleshed-out the setting is, things may be more specific: the Forgotten Realms book Faiths & Pantheons for 3rd Edition specifies particular times of day that a cleric of a particular deity should pray for spells, and sometimes particular rituals they should perform.
  • Anti-Debuff:
    • Starting from the 3.0 and 3.5 editions, Paladins have a class ability granting Ideal Illness Immunity, as well as the ability to magically cure diseases (which are implemented as stat debuffs), as well as an immunity to fear effects (plus giving allies a bonus against these).
    • Monks also gain an immunity to diseases (though not supernatural ones like Paladins), and both Monks and Druids have class abilities granting immunity to poisons of all kinds (which are a very common form of stat debuffs).
    • The spell dispel magic (and its variants) is an all-purpose remover of magic-induced buffs and debuffs.
    • The Iron Heart Surge technique from Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords is probably the strongest non-magical form of anti-debuff, allowing the user to purge themselves of a wide array of negative conditions through a burst of fighting spirit. That is, if you manage to settle the endless debate over what it can exactly be used against (most infamously there's an argument that a vampire can use Iron Heart Surge to extinguish the sun).
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Resurrection mechanics mean Death Is a Slap on the Wrist for a Player Character that's been around long enough for the player to get attached to. 3rd Edition made death more survivable by removing the Constitution-based chance for a resurrection to fail and render a PC Killed Off for Real.
    • 3rd Edition removed the worst frustrations of the Level Drain mechanic. In earlier editions, monsters with Level Drain applied it with every hit, items and spells that blocked the effect were extremely rare, and drained levels could only be regained the hard way. 3rd Edition replaced this with a "negative level" debuff that disappears after a day (as long as you make the Fortitude save) and/or can be removed with status-healing magic.
  • Anti-Grinding: The amount of XP you get from a given monster shrinks as you level up, and is cut off to nothing when you are more than eight levels above a monster's challenge level. DMs usually scale the monsters they use to the party's level anyway.
  • Anti-Regeneration:
    • 3rd Edition introduced regeneration as a standard monster ability that converts all damage taken to nonlethal damage and cures a certain amount of nonlethal damage each turn; this makes one impossible to kill without a specific type of damage that does not get converted, usually fire or acid as with trolls. Other possibilities might involve silver for werecreatures or devils, cold iron for fae or demons, and absolutely nothing for the Tarrasque. Damage that bypasses regeneration cannot be healed by it since regeneration only removes nonlethal damage and damage that bypasses regeneration remains lethal. That said, a creature with regeneration still falls unconscious when its nonlethal damage exceeds its current hit points, so a character who can't bypass the foe's regeneration can still (assuming that they are moderately competent in terms of raw damage output) inflict enough damage to knock the foe out and then continue to assault the unconscious enemy to pile on more nonlethal damage, then after ensuring the foe will be unconscious for long enough, do whatever they need to do in the area and then GTFO before they wake up.
    • 3rd Edition also includes fast healing, which heals a certain amount of damage (both lethal and nonlethal) on the bearer each round. This means that fast healing can't be bypassed, but since it doesn't convert lethal damage to nonlethal, a creature with fast healing can be killed by an opponent who can damage them fast enough to outpace the healing and bring them to -10 hp. Fast healing is virtually always low enough that is not difficult for any equal-level adversary with moderate competence in raw damage output to accomplish that task; it just becomes a bit more difficult than it would be otherwise.
    • There are also the Hydras, which, as in Mythology, will regrow two heads for every one cut if the wound isn't sealed — usually with fire or acid for most species, though the fire-breathing pyrohydra requires cold instead. They also have the aforementioned fast healing ability, meaning they regenerate wounds inflicted to the body very fast, although not beyond death, unlike trolls and other regenerating beings.
    • The 3.5th Edition sourcebook Dungeonscape adds Trollbane to the adventurer's arsenal, a poison that makes weapons coated in it deliver lethal damage to all regenerating creatures (not just trolls). Though the stuff being wiped after one strike, it's best to reserve a dose for a Coup de Grâce on a foe brought unconscious by nonlethal damage.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix:
    • In 3.x Edition arcane casters can wear armor if they take a proficiency feat, but if they do they risk a percentage chance that the spell will fail to cast, justified as the armor interfering with the gestures involved in spellcasting. Bards and some add-on classes such as Spellthief, Warmage and Warlock can wear light armor without hitting this restriction, and can take a feat, "Battle Caster", to be able to wear medium armor without risking spell failure. Of course, a wizard with skill in the schools of transmutation and abjuration doesn't necessarily need armor since they can protect themselves quite well with their spells.
    • Druids are only allowed to wear armor (and other equipment) made from "natural" materials (wood, hides, stone, etc.) or else their powers are unusable. With just the core rulebooks (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual), this restricts druids to wearing relatively weak armor (nonmetal light and medium armor and wooden bucklers, light shields, and heavy shields). Some of the 3.x Edition add-on books added some esoteric materials that are classified as natural and can be forged into heavier armors.
  • Arrow Catch:
    • The monk class in 3rd Edition has the Missile Snare ability starting at level 3. This can be used to dodge or catch any non-magical missile, including arrows, quarrels, ballista shot, and boulders(!).
    • In 3.5, this is changed to a combination of two feats: Deflect Arrows and Snatch Arrows, and specifically said that it won't work for things like boulders and ballista bolts. You can also only use it once per round... until you are epic-leveled.
    • The gloves of arrow catching are a magical item granting Snatch Arrows without having to take the feat, but only twice per day.
    • Dragon Magazine #358 adds the "Protective Talons" feat for characters with an animal companion, which gives a trained raptor bird a chance to intercept projectiles aimed at its master.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: It can be an Invoked Trope if you like in 3/3.5 edition. Standard class progression stops at level 20, but the Epic Level Handbook contains rules for advancing beyond that, with no actual cap. The easy multiclassing in that edition also means that you can simply add new classes and prestige classes pretty much forever. However, by this point game balance is non-existent so few games ever hit epic levels, and even those that do rarely go very far into them. Deities & Demigods allows your character to engage in this trope rather than just advance forever.
  • Attack Backfire:
    • A few spells work by retaliating against attacks (usually upon the caster):
      • The karmic aura, karmic backlash and karmic retribution spells (from Complete Mage) can cause any opponent that hurt the caster to get fatigued, exhausted or stunned, respectively. Those three spells also synergize between them, meaning it's harder to resist the effects if a caster has more than one activated.
      • The electric vengeance spell (from Player's Handbook II) can only be cast after receiving damage in melee, and creates an arc of lightning striking back the attacker.
      • The spell fire in the blood (from Heroes of Horror) causes any piercing or slashing attack to draw a spray of corrosive blood that unerringly hits the one causing it.
      • The divine spell vengeance halo (from the Book of Exalted Deed) creates a Holy Halo above the head of any good-aligned creature. If the subject is slain, the killer is immediately smitten by holy power from the halo.
    • From Tome of Battle – Book of Nine Swords, the Desert Wind discipline includes two such maneuvers:
      • "Fire Riposte" activates when the martial adept is hit in combat, causing fire damage to the attacker.
      • "Leaping Flame" is a teleportation effect sending the martial adept adjacent to whoever attacked him, even if the attack was dodged or blocked. Of relative value in melee (unless the opponent has reach, meaning this can avoid attacks of opportunity), but this also works against ranged attacks up to 100 feet away, even if the maneuver's user has no idea where the attack is coming from, ruining the day of any well-hidden sniper.
  • Attack Failure Chance:
    • Attacks are represented by rolling a twenty-sided dice and adding the character's attack bonus to the result, hitting if the total exceeds the target's Armor Class. However, if the dice lands on "1" before attack bonus is added the attack is an automatic failure. Conversely, a "natural 20" is an automatic hit and a Critical Hit if it would have hit anyways in some editions.
    • Arcane spellcasters who wear armor and attempt to cast spells requiring gestures to cast have a percentage chance of failing, represented by rolling a hundred-sided dice or two d10s. In D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder bards could ignore the spell failure chance for light armor and the rule was dropped entirely in later editions of both games.
  • Attack Reflector:
    • The psionic power kinetic control absorbs mechanical damage which can be discharged back as an impact.
    • The Shield enhancements reflecting and great reflection; the first one can be called once per day, the second one can be turned on and off to allow beneficial spells as a free action. Shields Are Useless? Not so much.
    • The "Mastery of Counterspelling" ability, available to the Archmage Prestige Class, allows them to make an upgraded Counterspell which reflects the opponent's spell rather than negating it.
    • The alternate class feature Spell Reflection (Complete Mage) replace the Evasion talent of Monks, Rogues, Scouts or Rangers. It allows reflecting spells that need a to-hit roll (meaning most rays, including a Disintegrator Ray) and have missed back at the caster.
    • The Arcanopath Monk (Dragon Compendium) is a Prestige Class of martial artists with a hatred of spellcasters. At 4th level they can harmlessly deflect rays and energy missile spells with their bare hands. At 9th level, they can reflect those back at the caster.
    • And then, there are the epic feats for very high-level characters. "Reflect Arrows" can return an arrow or other projectile back at the attacker. Combined with "Infinite Deflection", it means any number of arrows can be returned in a round. Combined with "Exceptional Deflection", it applies to any ranged attack, including boulders and spells. Combined with both...
  • Attack Speed Buff: The spell haste in 3.5th Edition grants targets one extra attack when they make a full attack on their turn, in addition to other perks. This is a substantial Nerf from the 3rd edition version, which grants an extra action per turn.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The distract spell (from Spell Compendium) can give this condition to several foes, making them fascinated by everything around them for a short moment. It inflicts serious penalties on skills such as Concentration, Spot, Listen and Search, and makes them unable to act as much as normal since they can get distracted even mid-combat.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The 3.x Monk. On paper, you've got a monster ninja who can move faster than anything, run up walls, teleport, jump so far he can effectively fly, become completely immune to poison and disease, block and catch enemies, grapple and trip forever, stun or kill enemies with a single blow, punch through castles, and talk to animals. In practice, he can't hit anything, and is squishier than the wizard (who gets lots of good buffs to avert that). The first two levels of Monk are often considered a valuable dip for their various bonus feats and abilities, but rare are the builds which progress beyond that.
    • 3.x metamagic feats raise the power of spells but treat them as higher level, essentially making them more expensive to use. With very few exceptions, the result is actually slightly less powerful than just using a higher-level spell. Several feats and classes reduce the cost of metamagic (Arcane Thesis, notably), making it capable of dealing several thousand damage per round with ease.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis:
    • Many divination spells temporarily grant the ability to simply pull more information out of simple observation than other people, e.g. discern lies allows you to automatically succeed at the Sense Motive skill to know when someone is lying, commune allows you to derive simple yes/no conclusions entirely from context for a minute or two, and read magic allows you to perform the otherwise-arduous task of unraveling a caster's personal codes and languages with Spellcraft instantly.
    • The "Knowledge Devotion" feat lets a character roll a Knowledge check to analyze creatures they face in combat and grants scaling bonuses to attack and damage rolls based on how successful the check is.
    • The "Insightful Reflexes" feat replaces the Dexterity bonus to Reflex saves with the Intelligence bonus, thus avoiding damage from widespread attacks such as Fireballs and Breath Weapons not through agility but instant calculations.
  • Bad Powers, Good People:
    • In the core of 3rd edition, only one spell from the Necromancy school is explicitly Evil: animate dead. If you can find a Lawful Good use for circle of death or soul bind, go right ahead.
    • However, a few splatbooks introduced spells that have the Evil descriptor tag, which makes casting them an inherently evil action. Of course, depending on what else you do that still might not be enough to drop you all the way to the deep end of the alignment pool — there were canonically Neutral characters who explicitly were in the habit of casting specific evil spells on a relatively regular basis.
    • Among the gods in the core 3.5 players handbook is Wee Jas, Goddess of Death and Magic. She is Lawful Neutral. That's right, the goddess of necromancy is not explicitly evil, and it's within the rules to have a Lawful Good cleric with the Death domain. Plus, a Lawful Neutral goddess of death wouldn't consider necromancy necessarily evil, and wouldn't find her clerics casting "evil" spells a deal-breaker anyway since she accepts both good and evil followers.
    • The Malconvoker prestige class summons evil outsiders to fight against evil; one of the requirements is a non-evil alignment.
    • The supplement Lords of Madness includes the Fleshwarper class, which is based around turning yourself into a Humanoid (or not so humanoid) Abomination through grafts. The class's only alignment restriction is that you cannot be Lawful, so there can be as many good ones as evil.
    • The same book also includes a race of Aberrations that can split into a swarm and have a Mad Scientist feel but are generally good enough folk.
    • The Ardent class gains its power from various "mantles" that represent metaphysical ideas. Several of the mantles listed are clearly malevolent in feel: Corruption and Madness, Consumption, Conflict, Death, Destruction, Pain and Suffering, or just flat-out Evil. Despite this, mantles do not have an alignment requirement, and it's specifically called out that Ardents can draw power from all these mantles (even Evil!) and still be good. After all, Ardents are meant to be philosophers, and it's quite reasonable for a philosopher to be fascinated by the nature of pain and death without believing that pain and death are good. In fact, the book throws out the idea that an Ardent could use both Good and Evil mantles while being neither (there would be little in-game reason to do this, though), as a way of understanding both parts more effectively.
    • The supplement Libris Mortis is all about undead, not all of which are necessarily evil. It also adds a deity called "The Eternal Lover", a minor True Neutral god dedicated to The Power of Love and helping lovers stay together even after death.
    • The Warlock class in 3rd edition specifically must be either chaotic or evil to gain their powers. It's a safe bet that most Warlock players chose to be Chaotic Good. And, due to an oversight, it's actually possible for a Warlock to be Lawful Good. Wizards of the Coast realized this late in 3rd Edition's lifespan and created a prestige class where the sample NPC is a Lawful Good Warlock.
    • The 3.5 Shadowcaster class is described as dealing with dark powers ("magic often associated with evil") and living with a skewed, alien perspective of the world to master their branch of magic, resulting in good shadowcasters being exceedingly rare. However, the key word there is rare — they explicitly can be of any alignment, and indeed there are no mechanical limitations indicated on alignment for them.
    • Hailing from the same book as the Shadowcaster, the Binder is a Willing Channeler who calls upon the long-dead spirits of beings trapped beyond the reach of the world and makes pacts with them. Notable vestiges include demons, undead, and deceased gods of evil (and one of them, Tenebrous, is technically all three), and most of them did at least some kind of terrible thing in life. Many of their powers are also somewhat malevolent-looking, such as summoning shadow, calling forth beings from the Far Realm, growing long black talons, a poisonous bite, terrifying others, or forcing enemies to attack each other. Despite this, no vestiges have any kind of alignment requirement; a Binder can be Lawful Good and utilize all of the above without any compunction.
    • The Shadow Sun Ninja from the Tome of Battle – Book of Nine Sword is a Prestige Class heavily versed in the power of darkness; one of the first power gained is to drain the lifeforce of living beings. They must be non-evil. It is somewhat implied this is a safety measure for members of the class, so that they don't find the darkness too attractive and get corrupted by it.
  • Bag of Holding: There's a magic item called the Belt of Hidden Pouches, which has a grand total of thirty pouches (ten visible, twenty hidden) that all function as miniature bags of holding — none of them can hold more than five pounds or half a cubic foot, and none of them can hold an item that exceeds 6 inches in any dimension, but the belt itself can hold up to 150 lbs while itself weighing only a single pound, and the pouches never bulge.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: The third edition version of Oriental Adventures has the feat "Grappling Block" to perform a bare-handed block against melee weapons and disarm the opponent (though it can also be used with weapons such as a sai or jitte). It happens during an attack and count as an attack of opportunity. However, it has no less than five feat prerequisites, which makes it unlikely that any character will bother with it.
  • Barrage of Bats:
    • The summon swarm conjuration spell allows to sic on enemies a swarm of creatures chosen by the caster. In 3rd edition, the bat swarm is the best option both in term of mobility and damage output.
    • Vampires have the power (titled "Children of the Night" in 3rd edition) to call upon nocturnal creatures, including a large swarm of blood-sucking bats.
  • Battle Cry: A couple of Bard spells use this principle:
    • Casting a war cry before charging boosts the bard's attack and may scare the target if wounded.
    • The battlecry spell improves bardic music and bolsters the resolve of allies; it may even snap them out of fear or charm effects.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Element: From 3rd edition: Searing Spell is a feat you can apply to [Fire] spells to make them ignore fire resistance, and partially bypass fire immunity! It burns so hot it can burn things that can't be burned!
  • Beneficial Disease:
    • Several "evil" diseases provide growing bonuses at the cost of penalties in other areas, in effect becoming a Deadly Upgrade (e.g. Festering Anger, which kills you by making your muscles grow out of control). The players were quick to notice that the Prestige Class Cancer Mage from Book of Vile Darkness can adapt to diseases, hoarding bonuses while ignoring the penalties.
    • The same book includes some evil spells with a disease component. This means the caster must be infected with the appropriate disease to cast them. Such spellcasters often use another spell called suspend disease to keep the infection from having any debilitating effect.
    • For that matter, Lycanthropy, at least in 3rd Edition. Getting bitten by a "natural" lycanthrope causes you to turn into a slightly weaker (lower damage reduction and can't infect others) "afflicted" lycanthrope and you involuntarily transform every full moon until you become aware of your condition and transform voluntarily, which changes your alignment to the specific species alignment. If you're lucky you get bitten by a Werebear, they're Lawful Good.
    • The non-official Book of Erotic Fantasy introduces several sexually transmitted diseases. One of them, called "Whore's Delight", is only very mildly weakening, but has the weird side effect of making the sufferer's genitals excrete a paralyzing poison. This is used by dishonest prostitutes and their pimps to rob unwary costumers.
    • From the 3.5th edition Monster Manual spin-off, Fiend Folio, among the Fiendish Symbionts are parasites from the lower planes such as the gutworms and soul ticks. They have drawbacks — like slowly turning good characters mad, and generally tempting non-evil ones into evil acts — but also confer some advantages.
      • Gutworms are similar to tapeworms, but they make their hosts globally healthier and can negate poison, although they also tire faster and need twice as much food as normal. A gutworm can also force the bearer into a Berserk Rage in combat.
      • Soul ticks slowly drain the blood of their hosts, but they confer greater power to their Black Magic, and surround them with a protective aura. The bearer may fail to cast good, chaos or positive-energy spells, though, and become vulnerable to holy power as if evil.
  • BFS: Weapon size rules changed between 3.0 and 3.5 — the former giving weapons a size of their own, and the latter sizing them based on the wielder but with light/one-handed/two-handed subdivisions.
    • In 3rd edition it was possible for a character to wield swords created for creatures much bigger (a human wielding a sword designed to be used two-handed by giants, for example). 3rd also has the "Fullblade", which is explicitly an even bigger greatsword, à la Berserk and Final Fantasy VII.
    • In 3.5 it's possible for a Medium creature to wield a one-handed Large weapon in two hands... but this isn't usually any better than a regular Medium two-handed weapon, and inflicts a -2 penalty on attack rolls due to its unwieldiness. The Monkey Grip feat allows you to wield it in one hand instead, but even then it comes out far worse than the basic Power Attack feat (which not only allows converting accuracy into damage at a much better ratio, but can be adjusted up or down as needed).
    • The "Powerful Build" ability, possessed by some races like half-giants, allows them to count as one size larger in some situations, which includes the ability to wield both Medium and Large weapons.
    • Titans are Huge creatures with the ability "Use Oversized Weapon", which allows them to wield a warhammer sized for a Gargantuan creature. A PC with the Titan Bloodline can eventually receive Use Oversized Weapon "as the titan ability", which by Exact Words can result in a halfling swinging around a weapon about 16 times their own height.
  • Black Magic:
    • Several individual examples: Many 3rd Edition spells have a self-explanatory [Evil] descriptor. The rules are fuzzy, but casting such spells is considered an evil act (although casting an evil spell for a good purpose does average as neutral) and as such good characters using them too often are at risk of an alignment change. Note that most divine caster classes are forbidden from casting [Evil] spells if they're Good-aligned (or their deity is), anyway. Arcane casters and Archivists don't have such a restriction, however (unless multiclassed with another divine class; then the prohibition stands even for arcane spells).
    • The Heroes of Horror sourcebook proposes a variant rule that adds a risk of gaining "Depravity" points each time an [Evil] spell is used, which in the long run means the caster becomes less and less sane.
    • The Book of Vile Darkness introduces many [Evil] spells, including a whole category of them, Corrupt spells, which are of easy access to most casters (including Good-aligned) and are relatively more powerful than other spells of the same level, but are always cast at a cost (called "Corruption").
  • Blade Spam (split-second type): This is the default mode of attack for high-level Weapon Masters (a warrior Prestige Class). Able to fight equally well with both hands and using the attack/round tables of a Bare-Fisted Monk, a level 16 Weapon Master gets 6 strikes per round (6 seconds) with a single weapon, 12 when Dual Wielding, and you do not want to get in her way when she's buffed with Haste.
  • Body Horror:
    • The entire point of the Book of Vile Darkness and especially the Libris Mortis. A fair number of psionic abilities in 3.5e invoke this as well — including one which causes the target's skin to grow into a single solid membrane, effectively immobilizing it.
    • The Lords of Madness (with many "eldritch horror" elements), Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (with some truly foul concepts for demons), and Elder Evils (with some lovely beings such as a world which is actually the undead fetus of a god and an enormous 1-mile wide bloated mass of corrupt proto-life that tries to mutate all life on a world to be like itself). One admires the creativity shown in these books... and questions the minds that came up with these ideas.
    • Heroes of Horror adds the Taint of Evil, which is split into Depravity (Sanity Slippage) and Corruption (this trope). Effects include breaking out in painful sores, bones fusing, and a Wound That Will Not Heal.
    • What happened to the hag countess, also what usually happens to those who die on the 6th layer of hell. Their body fuses with the layer, their souls however stay where their body is. Its such a painful fate that those unfortunate enough to suffer it tend to go mad in a matter of hours.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: In 3E vampires cannot pass over running water on their own, but can be carried over it in a container. Also, they're not destroyed by immersion in running water if they have a swim speed before becoming a vampire.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The 3.0 Psionics Handbook included a number of strange and awkward mechanics, including "psionic combat modes" and tying each discipline to a different ability score. Its much better-received 3.5 replacement, Expanded Psionics Handbook, not only updates but completely overhauls the psionics system to have a different set of special mechanics, to the point where much of the supplemental material for 3.0 psionics cannot be directly converted.
  • Cast from Experience Points: In 3rd and 3.5 editions, crafting magical items cost XP for the maker, in addition to a stiff cost in gold. Many powerful spells are also costing XP when cast, the cost rising up with how game-breaking they are (in particular, the reality-altering wish and miracle). Not only this dissuades players to cast them too often if they want to progress in their class, but it introduces an additional limitation: the rule that characters cannot spend so much XP that it would bring them below the minimum for their current level.note  This means those spells cannot be cast at all if a character can't invest enough XP.
  • Changing Gameplay Priorities: In 3E, AC (Armor Class) is important at low-to-mid levels because it allows you to avoid taking damage from enemy attacks. At higher levels, either everybody has such high attack bonuses that AC becomes meaningless, or use attacks that largely ignore AC, like Saving Throws or Touch AC. Even if you have +5 Full Plate Armor, most enemy attacks are going to hit you.
  • Charged Attack:
    • In 3.5, any psionic character can take a full-round action to gain "psionic focus", which they may expend to gain a bonus on a Concentration check. Besides this basic effect, there are a number of feats and class features which are either fueled by expending psionic focus (e.g. Psionic Weapon, which can convert it into +2d6 damage on a single attack), or grant bonuses while retaining psionic focus (e.g. the illithid slayer's Cerebral Immunity, which grants a Psychic Block Defense while focused). There are also mechanics which allow a character to gain psionic focus more quickly, or retain up to two focuses at once.
    • The 3.5 soulknife has the Psychic Strike ability, which charges their mind blade to deal bonus damage on their next attack. The Mind Cleave feat allows them to charge their Psychic Strike instantly whenever they deal a killing blow.
    • The "channelled" line of spells in Player's Handbook II and Complete Mage have variable casting times, producing a weaker or stronger version of their effect depending on whether they're cast as a swift, standard or full-round action, or by spending 2 full rounds.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Pretty much the entire point of Epic Levels (i.e. level 21 and higher). By training long enough and defeating enough monsters, any fighter or rogue or barbarian can attain a balance check high enough to walk safely upon clouds, or a tumble check high enough to survive re-entry into the atmosphere, or gain the ability to turn invisible while standing in the open under broad daylight. They're just that good.
  • Chrome Dome Psi:
    • Although the various illustrations in the sourcebooks show that psionic characters aren't necessarily bald, this is still quite common. The pictures for the Telepath, Metamind (Expanded Psionics Handbook), Ardent, Divine Mind and Erudite (Complete Psionics) all have shaved heads.
    • The Synads are a race of humanoid aberrations with a threefold mind making them psionically gifted. They can easily pass for humans, but are described as "typically hairless".
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Compared to the many cursed items ported from previous editions, a more benign version are the Legendary Weapons from Unearthed Arcana. Once a character has started to take levels in the Scion Prestige Class for such a weapon, it can't be separated from its owner for very long, as fate literally will find a way to reunite them. Adding to the fact those weapons are quite hard to destroy, it insures the character will hardly ever be disarmed.
  • Clue of Few Words: The spell contact other plane petitions gods or other eldritch forces for information. However, they only give one-word answers like "Yes", "Maybe", or "Irrelevant", or at most a short phrase.
  • Colossus Climb: The "Giantbane" tactical feat from Complete Warrior includes the "Climb Aboard" maneuver that allows climbing on a giant creature during a fight, becoming harder to hit and following along if it moves.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: From the Planar Handbook: on the Ever-Changing Chaos of Limbo, the Monastery of Zerth'Ad'lun teaches githzerai monks a Supernatural Martial Art called "zerthi" that allows seeing the immediate future to anticipate an opponent's moves in combat. Non-githzerai can learn zerthi through the Planar Touchstone feat, although they must first prove their prowess in a barehanded duel against one of the monks, and then abide by their grueling schedule training for a week.
  • Competitive Balance: 3E, Bards were largely useless as they were really too versatile for their own good, while Druids wereinvoked Game Breakers; Fighters on the other hand were largely useless in anything that wasn't, um, fighting and other physical activities like riding, climbing and balancing, and often a Druid's animal companion would outclass a Fighter PC in those regards.
  • Continuing is Painful:
    • Resurrection magic is expensive, has a chance for failure that will result in Permadeath, and causes you to lose a level.
    • Averted late in 3.5 with the addition of revivify, a spell that instantly resurrects an ally, unconscious but stable and with no level loss... as long as they've been dead for less than 10 seconds.
    • Also averted with the pact of return spell, which allow resurrection with no consequence, but must be cast before the death occurs, and the specific nature of said death must be anticipated.
  • Counterspell:
    • 3rd Edition has a Counterspell mechanic. A prepared spell may be cast to nullify another caster's attempt to use the same spell. For example, a fireball can counter another fireball (but not delayed blast fireball, which is a different spell). Some spells are specifically opposed to and counter other spells (haste and slow may counter each other as well as themselves). Finally, dispel magic can be used as a universal counterspell but requires a unique "dispel check" to make the attempt. This worked very well with the base list of spells in 3.0 when, for instance, basically any caster intending to deal damage with a 3rd-level spell will have either fireball or lightning bolt slotted. As expansions piled up, however, the sheer length of the spell list made guessing a specific spell to counter essentially impossible, and the suggested house rule of countering with any spell of the same school (general thematic category) and same or higher level became extremely common.
    • While technically not a spell, bards in 3rd Edition have the countersong ability, which lets them counter spells that depend on sound within a 30-foot radius.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • The wizard has effectively unlimited access to spells, provided he's willing to pay for the scrolls and wands. Lower-level spells and scrolls are cheaper than higher-level ones, meaning any given wizard will probably have the majority of his collection of spells known, wands, and scrolls, in the lower level region. Now, when your budget is measured in values like 18,000 gold, is it really a problem to spend 12.5 gold to have odd, corner-case spells available like Tenser's floating disk? The practical upshot of it is that a wizard will typically be walking around with a veritable library of spells that have no practical purpose except to make him look like Batman. This means the Wizard can spend the rest of his time and money on having those really hugely powerful spells that turn the rest of the party into his personal audience. The funny part is that the balance is supposed to be that you can only prepare a certain amount of spells per day, and you have to do it in advance. Unfortunately, they kind of broke this by allowing a single spell to be prepared in an empty slot in 15 minutes. Sure, you need your combat spells in advance, but leaving a slot open at strategic levels for "something without a time constraint" can give you access to something like 3/4 of it all at once.
    • In rules supplements like the Arms and Equipment Guide, you'll find a variety of little bits-and-pieces items, like a stick of chalk, a hacksaw blade, extremely long pieces of string, a piece of ebony wood, and a bag of marbles. Each of these were individual items that had shown up in a variety of different other modules by one lone, clever writer, and since they're mundane items they are remarkably cheap (some not even breaking a single gold piece). It only takes a player willing to comb through the book and dedicate maybe a hundred gold of his budget (which, again, represents thousands and thousands of gold) to always have the right tool for an obscure job.
  • Creator Thumbprint:
    • Gary Gygax had several, including mushrooms, various shades of the color purple, H. P. Lovecraft, his extensive vocabulary, polearms, and infamously difficult adventures/dungeons. On the unfortunate side, problems with ranged weapons from slings to wheel-locks. Only in 3.x Edition was his fascination with polearms finally dropped... to be replaced with some new developer's spiked chain fetish. These things wormed their way everywhere, even underground.
    • On the note of 3.x Edition, former Wizards of the Coast employee Monte Cook enforced Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards much more than in previous editions. Martial classes were either mechanically schizophrenic (monks), ridiculously generic (fighters), or straight up terrible (3.5 samurai, which was a straight port of the 3.0 samurai without any reworking). Caster classes were overpowered due to both the number of overpowered spells they could get and the introduction of metamagic feats. Wizards in particular were the worst about it. With 5E, Fighters are far more viable mechanically (retaining a lot of the tools they gained in 4E, for instance being the only class to keep the action surge feature) and Concentration rules for most spells limit the number of magical effects casters can keep up at one time, making the playing field much more even.
  • Critical Failure:
    • In the third edition (and variants), automatic failure on a roll of 1 applies only to attack rolls and saving throws. Skill checks do not result in an automatic failure when rolling a 1, nor an automatic success when rolling a 20 — making it impossible for most people to (say) balance on a single cobweb, but also preventing them from garroting themselves while tying their shoes.
    • One minor exception for skill checks is Use Magic Device and Use Psionic Device: failing a check with a natural 1 means there can be no retry with this item for 24 hours.
    • One critical failure actually included in the standard rules is for the use of Poisoned Weapons. On a natural attack roll of 1 with a poisoned weapon, the wielder must succeed on a Reflex save or accidentally poison himself.
    • The 3.5 Dragon Compendium includes expanded rules for what happens when rolling a 1 or a 20 on an attack roll. The critical failures are rather amusing, but it's generally considered smoother gameplay to never enforce such rules.
  • Critical Hit Class:
    • Third edition has weapons with an increased critical threat range (chance to make a critical hit), due either to their physical nature or magical enhancements. There are spells (like keen edge) and feats that do likewise (e.g. "Improved Critical"). A character can concentrate on gaining as large a critical threat range as possible (though most of the time, different critical range improvements do not stack).
    • The Rogue and several analogous classes like the Scout, Spellthief, and Ninja have a class feature that grants extra damage as the result of precision striking. Any defense against critical hits also negates this damage. The reason for this is that both precision attacks and critical hits are justified as striking an enemy in a weak spot, like an eye or internal organ. Thus, foes with Fortified armor to magically cover those weak spots, or foes like Oozes and Undead that have no anatomical weak spots are protected from both.
    • The Weapon Master and Psychic Weapon Master Prestige Classes gain a +2 bonus to critical threat range which explicitly stacks with more common options like Improved Critical. They can also increase the multiplier for their critical hit damage a limited number of times per day.
  • Cyanide Pill:
    • The Complete Adventurer handbook, among a variety of alchemical items, introduces the "alchemical tooth" which can contain a dose of ingested or contact poison for spies wishing to not be captured alive. The Complete Scoundrel handbook upgrades it to the "toxic tooth", with a contact or inhaled poison that can affect a close-by opponent by spitting or breathing in its face. Unless the carrier is also immune to poisons, though, he'll be affected by the toxin too.
    • The book Exemplars of Evil has the evil spell infallible servant, which ensures that a minion will not fall into enemy hands, by making them dissolve into a foul sludge if they're captured (or killed, making it very hard to resurrect them).
    • The Keepers, an Outsider race described in the Fiend Folio, have this as a racial trait. If they are captured or pinned down for more than 10 rounds, they dissolve into a puddle of poison.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • Complete Arcane has a 9th-level wu jen spell called Transcend Mortality, which you're not supposed to use except in desperation. It basically makes the caster Nigh-Invulnerable (and its casting is an immediate action, meaning it can be invoked right before an attack) and last for about one combat. However, once it expires, the caster instantly dies and is disintegrated.
    • This is the point of the Corrupt spells in the Book of Vile Darkness (and their Exalted Deeds counterparts, Sanctified spells). They are notably more powerful than other spells of their level — for instance, run-of-the-mill blindness is a second-level spell, while seething eyebane, a Corrupt first-level spell, causes the target's eyes to spew acid and explode — but there is always a tax, sometimes permanent, on one or more ability scores. The most powerful of these spells is harmful even to prepare and has a very good chance of rendering the caster dead and/or permanently insane (if he wasn't already).
    • Something else mentioned in the Book of Vile Darkness is the Artifact of Doom called the Death Rock. Artifacts are always dangerous, but this one is worse than most; its history does say that its owners tend to obtain great power and are able to conquer empires, but tend to lose the power at the worst possible time, and are usually overthrown in violent insurrections by their enemies. Here's how the Rock works: It gives the user incredible dark powers of necromancy, giving him the potential to raise vast undead armies. But it has a terrible cost; once a week, it demands the user slay his closest friend or loved one, and claim him or her as a zombie slave. If he is unwilling or unable to do so, the Rock and all powers associated with it vanish. Clearly, all former users never realize that if you are willing to do this, you're going to run out of friends and loved ones very quickly (a lot of them will likely stop being your friends before you can use them as the required sacrifices) and be unable to make any new ones; on the other hand, you'll probably make hated enemies very fast...
    • From 3.5 edition's Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords, the Shadow Sun Ninja Prestige Class is a class of good-aligned warriors that accept the dark aspect within themselves and not reject it, allowing them to use the power of both sides. The final ability they learn, Balance of Light and Dark, lets their inner darkness run rampant, transforming themselves into a shadow form with a number of special immunities, causes negative energy spells used on them to heal instead of harm them, a bonus to Hide skill checks, and attacks made when in areas of darkness or shadowy illumination. It also grants the Shadow Sun Ninja the option to inflict negative levels with no saves allowed and heal a small amount of damage with every successful unarmed attack they make.note  However, for every negative level the Shadow Sun Ninja inflicts this way, they also take a point of Constitution damage once their transformation ends. Low on Hit Points at the end of the shadow form? A character can drop dead from the sudden HP reduction due to CON lost. But wait, it gets worse. Hit 0 CON? The character doesn't even return back to normal, instead dissipating into an inky dark cloud. That starts a 1 to 4-day random time limit to bring the Shadow Sun Ninja back to life, and only the spell true resurrection will work. Run out of time and then the Shadow Sun Ninja's body reforms as an NPC vampire, shifts immediately from whatever good alignment they were straight down to a champion of evil, has all of the Prestige Classes abilities, oh and they don't have the normal vampire's vulnerability to sunlight. Once this occurs, slaying the vampire still won't let the Shadow Sun Ninja be returned to life with any spell. The only way to save them at that point, is for their allies to travel to the Iron City of Dis located in Hell and free their trapped soul being imprisoned there, which will instantly slay their vampire self if it still exists and restore them to life.
  • Deadly Dodging: There are several different ways to force attacking enemies to hit their own allies by mistake or blunder into disadvantageous or even dangerous positions.
    • Among them, a good selection of feats:
      • Deceptive Dodge allows tricking an opponent that attacks in melee and miss you into hitting another close-by target.
      • The Elusive Target tactical feat includes two such maneuvers. "Diverting Defense" works against two foes flanking you; the first to attack miss automatically and may strike its ally instead. "Cause Overreach" is risky since you need to provoke an attack of opportunity, but then if the attacker misses you can safely trip it.
      • Combat Panache is another tactical feat with a maneuver allowing this: "Fortuitous Tumble" plays on the confidence of an opponent who already managed a successful attack through bluffing, luring it into striking an ally with its next blow.
      • Gnome Tunnel Acrobatics from Dungeonscape is yet another tactical feat with a maneuver of this type, "Combat Puppeteer". It allows confusing opponents by moving swiftly between them, leading the attack of opportunity of one of them to hit their ally.
    • From the Tome of Battle – Book of Nine Swords, the Setting Sun martial discipline in particular is dedicated to misdirection and turning the strength of the enemy against itself. Beyond the various throws allowing to put an opponent just at the right spot for it to get hurt by your allies or the terrain, there are maneuvers such as "Counter Charge" (sends a charging foe sprawling), "Scorpion Parry" (deflects an attack so that it strikes someone else), "Ghostly Defense" (tricks an opponent into hitting an ally) and "Fool's Strike" (can lead an attacker to strike itself). Other disciplines are more straightforward, but the Iron Heart one includes "Manticore Parry", which can deflect a weapon strike against another opponent.
    • Spellcasters can of course play this game too. For example, the spells baleful transposition or translocation trick can switch the position of two creatures; if timed properly with the "ready action" option, one can replace an ally (or oneself) with an opponent just as another enemy is about to strike. (In addition, translocation trick gives the transposed enemy the appearance of the caster, meaning the exchange may take a while to be noticed.)
  • Deadly Force Field:
    • The prismatic sphere spell is normally stationary. If it can be made mobile (perhaps by modifying it so it can be cast on a movable item/creature) it can be touched to an opponent, inflicting a variety of massive types of damage on the victim.
    • The Forgotten Realms 3.5E supplement Lost Empires of Faerun contains the spell crushing sphere, which envelops the target and crushes it over several rounds.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion:
    • The 3rd edition Planar Handbook includes the 5th-level death throes spell, which makes the caster explodes violently if he or she is killed. It ranks fairly high in the Useless Useful Spell category, since it destroys the body and thus makes resurrection more difficult. Although it can become ainvoked Game-Breaker if used intelligently, for example combined with the magic jar spell....
    • From the Miniature Handbook, the righteous aura paladin spell converts its caster into explosive energy when he's killed, although the explosion only hurts Evil creatures and undead, and heals Good creatures.
    • The Complete Scoundrel has the spell fatal flame, which causes a small fire explosion on a creature's death. It's much less powerful than death throes or righteous aura, but at least it can be cast directly on enemies.
    • Dungeon Master's Guide II includes in its magic items the Elixir of Reckoning, which fills the imbiber with dangerous energy. If killed within an hour of drinking the elixir, it causes a severe explosion. Commonly used by suicide troopers of evil warlords.
  • Destination Defenestration: From the Spell Compendium splatbook, the defenestrating sphere spell conjures magical winds that violently hurl enemies away — and, in a stylish quirk, automatically aims them at any window that happens to be nearby.
  • Diagonal Cut: A possible way to simulate this effect in-game is with the "Mosquito's Bite" skill trick, which can make a flat-footed opponent not realize he's been wounded until the next turn. Especially when combined with a Iaijustu Focus move and/or sneak attack.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Deicide is a common practice in epic-level games. Gods even have combat stats just like any other monster, and are fully punchable. However they can't be killed except by extraordinary circumstances, and edition deities typically have 20 levels in three different class with another 20 outsider hit dice (and each of these gets the max amount, rather than the 1/2 or random most get). For those not in the know, that means they can take a lot of punishment and resist a lot of effects even without their divine immunities and powers.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The horribly overpowered full casters in 3rd edition were at least partially intentional, in order to reward players who realize how it works.
  • Dimensional Cutter:
    • From the Oriental Adventure sourcebook, the passage weapon property allows a magic blade to slice open a portal to the spirit world. It acts as a plane shift spell, but the portal stays open 1-4 minutes and any creature can pass through from both directions.
    • The 3.5th Edition Weapons of Legacy sourcebook includes the Planeshifter's Knife, which seems inspired by the Subtle Knife. It was created by an ambitious student mage who wanted to plunder his institution's trove of tomes, but didn't stop to consider whether a college of master wizards would have some way of tracking stolen books. The weapon starts as a simple +1 dagger with an odd habit of balancing on its tip and spinning in the presence of outsiders, but as a wielder unlocks the knife's abilities, they can use it to slash a tear in reality to use as a hiding spot, similar to the rope trick spell. Eventually Planeshifter's Knife allows its wielder to instantly move to another plane, with the caveat that it can only do so after striking an extraplanar creature.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • The 3.0 non-official book Nymphology introduces new rules for lewd situations. For example, a Concentration check can be required for a spellcaster facing a naked and attractive opponent, in order to not flub a spell. Although modified by the foe's Charisma, the check is rather easy (since most spellcasters max out their Concentration skill), so only a complete novice is really at risk of being distracted.
    • In the 3.5 supplement Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss, one of the Abyssal Heritor feats is "Otherworldly Countenance", which allows to choose between wretchedly hideous or stunningly beautiful. If beautiful, the character can cause a fascination effect a set number of times per day by focusing attention on a subject. Note that no mention is made of the subject needing to be of the opposite sex (or even the same species, in fact).
  • Dog Pile of Doom: The splatbook Cityscape introduces rules for rampaging mobs. While your typical mob is composed of ordinary citizens with no class levels, it is way more dangerous than its individual parts. Even mid- to high-level characters caught in an angry mob are likely to be grabbed, pinned down, trampled and pummeled to death. By its very nature, a mob negates most defenses like armor, agility or invisibility, much like a swarm.
  • Dope Slap: The wizard Bigby is well-known for the numerous magic "hands" spell he created. From 3.5th Edition, you have Bigby's slapping hand, which just creates a hand made of force that slaps the side of the target's head. It's not capable of inflicting damage, but can cause enough distraction for foes to take advantage of it.
  • Dragon Ancestry:
    • Dragons are known to interbreed so much that it looks as though many sorcerers had a dragon ancestor. The Half-Dragon Template can also be added to almost anything that can breed.
    • Members of the Sorcerer class are usually said to receive their powers from draconic blood, though a number of other supernatural ancestors are also possible. The Dragon Disciple Prestige Class allows a Sorcerer to tap deeper into their bloodline to gradually transform themselves into a Half-Dragon.
    • 3rd Edition D&D eventually added a whole creature subtype for beings descended from dragons — the dragonblooded — with access to unique dragon-themed feats and Prestige Classes (including wings and Breath Weapons). While Sorcerers are not automatically dragonblooded, they can trade away some of their normal abilities in order to count as such.
    • Kobolds from 3rd edition onward are depicted as tiny reptilian servants of dragons, with a tendency to become Sorcerers. Occasionally their draconic blood manifests particularly true in the form of a Dragonwrought Kobold, whose scales shine in the colour of their ancestor. While no inherently stronger than a normal Kobold, they are usually higher level and more likely to possess dragon-themed abilities. In addition they are biologically closer to Dragons than Humanoids, making them immune to certain spells and preventing their bodies from weakening as they age (the latter of which makes them extremely popular among spellcaster players, since old age provides bonuses to spellcasting-related stats that are normally Awesome, but Impractical).
  • Draw Sword, Draw Blood: The 3E Dungeon Master's Guide offers this as a potential quality of intelligent weapons.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: The optional 3rd edition book Heroes of Horror presents a system that implements this trope. In this, you don't even have to commit evil acts. Evil is practically a hazardous material, and turns you monstrous either physically (called Corruption) or morally (called Depravity), depending on the circumstances, if you don't take adequate protective measures or make your saving throws if you are around it.
  • Elves Versus Dwarves: Since both dwarves and elves are standard hero races, they tend to be on decent terms, though usually not seeing eye-to-eye on much (typically more like eye-to-groin). The 3rd edition rulebook mentions that while dwarves and elves don't always get along, if one gets attacked the other will be the first to help them, much like brothers.
  • Experience Penalty:
    • In the 3rd edition, multiclassing incurs an XP penalty unless one of the character's classes (ignoring Prestige Classes) is their race's "favored class". Humans and half-elves get to choose their favored class.
    • The optional Bloodlines rules from Unearthed Arcana can also result in an XP penalty if the character doesn't take a "bloodline level" at some set points instead of a regular level.
  • Expert in Underwater Basket Weaving: 3rd Edition characters can invest in "Craft" and "Profession" skills, some of which are so specific and so orthogonal to the adventuring trade that they're usually only of use to NPCs and as prerequisites for certain obscure Prestige Classes. For example, the Archdevil Mammon, Lord of the Third Circle of Hell, happens to be a fantastically skilled bookkeeper.
  • Face-Design Shield:
    • The Lion's Head Shield, which can roar and bite enemies.
    • The 3.5th Edition Magic Item Compendium has an illustration of a shield with a sculpted skeletal demonic face. Appropriately, it is described as a +1 menacing shield, that is a Supernatural Fear Inducer.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: The Player's Handbook uses asymmetrical outfits for the iconic characters representing the Bard, the Paladin, the Ranger, and particularly the Sorcerer.
  • Fastball Special: Edition 3.5 has a feat that allows players to do this, appropriately named "Fling Ally". This gets amusing if you combine it with the Charm Person spell and the Distant Shot feat. To quote one post on the Internet, "The Andromeda galaxy is within my line of sight, right?"
  • Feel No Pain:
    • Immunity to pain isn't a much sought-after ability since it has little effect in the game. Only a few spells, feats or special abilities are described as using pain to cause Status Effects. Creatures immune to critical hits (constructs, elementals, oozes, plants and undead) are also considered immune to pain.
    • A couple of drugs from the Book of Vile Darkness, Sannish and Luhix, can grant immunity to pain for a few hours. Sannish last longer, is cheap, has little side effects and isn't too addictive. Luhix (made from plants from the Abysses), on the other hand, is insanely expensive and its vicious addictive level makes it closer to a slow poison than an actual drug — without magic to counter the lasting effects, a single dose is likely to kill even a high-level character in a few days. However, Luhix is stronger as it can protect from pain-induced damage, while Sannish only protects from penalties.
    • The Paladin spell favor of the martyr grants immunity to pain attacks and non-lethal damage, as well as a long list of status ailments, and even allows to stay functional at negative hit points.
    • The Bard spell empyreal ecstasy induce a pleasurable fuguelike state that renders the subjects immune to pain penalties (but not damage) and mind-affecting spells, although it also makes it difficult to concentrate. The higher-level Cleric spell sublime revelry gives the same advantages without the negative effects.
    • The Cleric spell undead mask gives the subject many traits of The Undead, including their immunity to pain.
    • The Exemplars of Evil sourcebook offers the "Feign Death" alternate class feature for monks, rogues or rangers. It puts the subject into a catatonic state similar to death, where he or she no longer feel anything, including pain. The sole little drawback is that one can no longer move at the same time.
    • Dragon #313 introduces several "half-undead" templates, among which are the Ghedens, living beings mixed with the essence of mindless undead such as zombies and skeletons by some necromantic intervention. As a result, they have the "Dead Nerves" ability, which makes them incapable of feeling pain, and thus immune to nonlethal damage, stunning or death from massive damage.
  • Fictional Age of Majority: In 3.5 Edition, humans reach majority at 15, whereas elves, who can expect to live into their 500s, do at 110.
  • Fighting Fingerprint:
    • The Tome of Battle – Book of Nine Swords features new Supernatural Martial Arts divided in nine disciplines. Along with them is introduced a new skill, Martial Lore, working similarly to the older Spellcraft and Psicraft skills, allowing to identify through observation the maneuvers used and/or disciplines known by a martial adept.
    • The mirror move arcane spell allows the caster to mimic the uses of some feats (mostly martial-oriented) than she's seen in use recently. The spell description points out that it isn't just the feat's advantage that is gained, but also the specific style of the character emulated, and that it can be recognized by someone familiar with it on a successful spot check.
  • Flashy Teleportation:
    • In the supplement Complete Mage, the Cloudy Conjuration feat lets you accompany your conjuration spells (a category that includes teleportation and Summon Magic) with a poof of noxious smoke, sickening nearby creatures for 1 round. Creatures summoned by the spell are unaffected.
    • From Tome of Battle – Book of Nine Swords, the Desert Wind discipline includes the "Leaping Flame" supernatural maneuver, which allows to disappear in a burst of flame and smoke when attacked, certainly confusing opponents about what actually happened.
  • Flourish Cape in Front of Face: The Player's Handbook II feat "Combat Cloak Expert" includes this move as a tactical maneuver to shield oneself against enemies.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: The "spiralburst bottle" is a nasty magic item from the Book of Vile Darkness. When it's un-stoppered or shattered, it opens a half-inch portal to the Ethereal Plane that sucks in a single creature or object. Unless the target is a Blob Monster, it ends up a spiral swirl of liquefied flesh and blood, lost in the Ether.
  • Fooled by the Sound: Auditory illusion spells such as ventriloquism grant listeners a saving throw to disbelieve them.
  • Forced Addiction: As part of the Book of Vile Darkness' Drugs Are Bad theme, there's a spell to inflict a drug addiction with a touch, using the drug in question as a material component.
  • Fusion Dance:
    • Edition 3.5 has a high-level power called fusion, for Psions who specialize in Psychometabolism. The power lets the user meld with a willing creature and take on all their abilities, combining hit points, the best of saves, skills, attacks, and ability scores. If both use psionics they even combine their power point pools.
    • The Book of Exalted Deeds introduces Channeling, which allows Celestials (Outsiders from the Good-aligned planes) to merge physically with a mortal (as an equivalent of the fiends' Demonic Possession). It works only on willing mortals and gives them serious boost to mental stats, and share all skills and supernatural powers of the Celestial. Powerful Celestials have this as a power, and lesser ones can profit of Channeling too if the mortal cast the appropriate spells.
    • From Magic of Eberron, the spell leap into animal allows a Ranger or Druid to merge with a willing animal (usually their animal companion), leaving only the beast visible. Good for infiltration, but hardly for combat since the caster cannot use any spell or power while merged.
  • Garden Garment:
    • The Arms and Equipment Guide introduces two magical armors that are vegetal in nature (which notably allows druids to use them):
      • The Bondleaf Wrap, a single large leaf from a magical tree that wraps around the body, getting nutriments from it.
      • The Moon-Ivy, a wreathlike choker that grows a flexible bodysuit of ivy around the body overnight, which withers at the end of every day.
    • Races of the Wild compiles various materials favored by elves to make armors, including leafweave, which are forest leaves alchemically treated to make the equivalent of leather, padded, studded leather or hide armors, although much more flexible.
  • Geometric Magic:
    • The Binder class from 3rd edition uses a weird mixture of this and Powers via Possession; to be able to wield magic, a binder first draws elaborate arcane sigils to make contact with the Vestiges they wish to invoke, and then allows them to co-habit the binder's body in order to gain access to their magic.
    • The 3.5th edition Geometer is a Prestige Class which grants greater insight into glyphs, sigils, runes and other symbols. Its geometric magic also allows Geometers to replace verbal and material components with a spellglyph written in advance on parchment, and to scribe their spells in a much condensed form taking less pages of a Spell Book.
  • Ghostly Animals: "Ghost" is a template in 3.5 edition that normally can't be applied to animals since most lack the charisma score necessary to become a ghost. There are a few exceptions, however, mostly Dire Beasts and Legendary Animals. There is also a "Ghost Brute" template added in another book that is specifically there to create ghostly animals and other low-charisma creatures.
  • Ghostly Glide:
    • The Expanded Psionics Handbook has the Elocater Prestige Class. The first power gained is "Scorn Earth", the ability to float and move a foot above the ground. Used mostly for practical purposes rather than creepiness, though, but a creative player will sure find a way.
    • Dragon Magazine #359 introduces the "Footsteps of the Mage" feat, permitting an arcane caster to glide without actually taking steps. This confers greater balance and even allows to move with bound feet.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: D&D is one of the early trope codifiers. Prices are usually listed in gold pieces, unless they're small prices, in which case they're listed in silver pieces or copper pieces. The exchange rates were as follows:
    • 10 c.p. = 1 s.p.
    • 10 s.p. = 1 g.p.
    • 10 g.p. = 1 p.p.
  • Hammer Hilt: Quarterstaffs are considered double weapons, which means that, when you attack with one, you can take a penalty on your attack rolls to be allowed to hit the enemy with the other end of the staff as an off-hand attack. Given that they're the only double weapons classified as Simple weapons instead of Exotic weapons, this makes them a fairly practical choice for characters who want to focus on two-weapon fighting style.
  • Hammerspace: The WotC Website had several articles for expanded classes. Among them is the "Personal Space" alternate class feature for Nomad Psions, which grants them access to an extradimensional storage within their body. The size grows as they gain in power, being just equivalent to a belt pouch or sack at low levels, to a backpack at mid-levels, to a chest or bigger at high levels.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Edition 3.5 has two feats from the Sandstorm supplement. "Sand Dancer" allows to throw sand or dust in an opponent's eyes after doing some tumbling. The upgrade "Sand Spinner" does the same thing, but to every creatures surrounding the thrower.
  • Hand of Glory: The Hand of Glory from the 3.5 edition can be worn around the neck (presumably not alight). It provides an extra place to wear a magic ring along with being able to cast a few spells.
  • Hate Plague:
    • Mindflayers are given magical stones that could potentially have this result in the supplement Lords of Madness.
    • Elder Evils has the Hulks of Zoretha, whose awakening causes the Blood Moon to rise and brings one of these upon the world. Initially, it's just an additional degree of hostility to every interaction, but as it moves on, everything on the planet that is alive and thinking must make a daily Will save or start attacking everyone in sight until someone dies. Once they're fully awake, those that fall to this wrath will become superhumanly strong, but eventually pass out from sheer exhaustion in trying to kill things.
  • Hates Being Touched: The Bard spell disquietude (from Spell Compendium) inflicts this state of mind on its victim. The subject will avoid contact with any creature, even allies trying to help him, and try to keep his distance from both friends and foes. If he can't move away from an enemy, he won't fight back but solely defend himself.
  • Hell Seeker: The Fiendish Codex sourcebooks for 3.5 claim that many evil characters make deals with devils on the assumption that, after they die, they'll rocket to the top of Hell's hierarchy. "None ever look at a lemure [the bottom of Hell's food chain] and think that will be their eternity."
  • Heroic Ambidexterity: In Edition 3.0, Ambidexterity is a feat that allows you to Dual Wield weapons much more efficiently than otherwise, even if you're already trained for it. In Edition 3.5, this was merged with the Two-Weapon Fighting feat.
  • Holy Is Not Safe: The Positive Energy Plane serves as the power source behind "positive" energy damage and abilities that Turn Undead, but any living being who tries to enter the plane without appropriate protection will find their bodies being overloaded with life energy and risk being vaporized if they spend too long there.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action:
    • Dragons were capable of offspring with nearly anything alive, while aasimar and tieflings all have celestial or infernal ancestry, respectively (it helps that shape-changing abilities are common amongst the respective parentage). Further parentage was possible; the number of templates for half-parentage is astounding.
    • There's even a 3.5 sourcebook of half-breeds based around this trope... covering everything from the slightly unusual (human/merfolk) to the completely bizarre (elf/giant eagle).
  • Hover Skates: 3.5 has a psychic power skate, which doesn't actually hover, but fits the trope otherwise by letting people skate along the ground instead of above it.
  • Idealized Sex: According to the 3.0 module Book of Vile Darkness, only evil people can have a sadomasochistic sexuality. Also, all sadomasochists have evil superpowers — sexual masochism and sadism are evil superpowers in this setting, and sexual masochism is defined as being the same thing as the trope Combat Sadomasochist.
  • I Gave My Word: A dangerous example occurs with Pandorym, one of the Eldritch Abominations outlined in the Elder Evils sourcebook. Originally, it was summoned millennia ago by a cabal of foolish wizards after agreeing to a contract in which it would act as a Doomsday Device to be used against the gods, but the wizards double-crossed it and imprisoned it to use as a deterrent. The gods smote the arrogant wizards dead, but Pandorym was too powerful for them to destroy, so it remained in its prison until the present time. If it ever escaped, its first goal would be to enact revenge by slaying every last descendant of its betrayers; however, its second goal would be to fulfill its end of the original contract. With its alien view of reality it is bound by a strange code of honor to keeps its word, even though its summoners broke theirs. And because its side of the contract was to slay every god in existence, this code of honor threatens all of creation.
  • I'm Melting!:
    • The spell infallible servant from the book Exemplar of Evil can turn a creature into a foul sludge if slain or captured after casting, making it impossible to interrogate or resurrect. Note that this spell is mostly cast on willing subjects.
    • The Keepers, an Outsider race described in the Fiend Folio, have this as a racial trait. If they are captured or pinned down for more than 10 rounds, they dissolve into a puddle of poison.
  • Immune to Mind Control:
    • Many creatures, such as plants, slimes, insects and other arthropods, Golems and The Undead are immune to hypnosis and all other mind-effecting magic. Depending on the edition there can be specific methods or techniques to bypass the immunities of some of them (such as various Pest Controller options for arthropods) or exceptions to the general rule (for example, in 3E the immunity of plants, ooze and arthropods is based on that they don't really have a mind to control in the way animals have — so things or variants that granted them some degree of thought also tend to remove the immunity).
    • The basic protection from evil/good/law/chaos spells, despite being low-level, will block those mind-control effects that rely on a constant link with the controller (mostly charm and domination spells), although they don't prevent the effects from taking hold, and are also quite short-lived.
    • The spell mind blank protects fully against mind-affecting spells and effects, as well as providing some immunities to divination.
    • The spell disobedience from the Complete Scoundrel sourcebook can suppress any mind-control effect, including those already affecting the target, while also tricking the controller into believing its power is still active.
    • The Bard spell empyreal ecstasy induce a pleasurable fuguelike state that renders the subjects immune to mind-affecting spells (but also makes it difficult to concentrate).
  • Improbable Falling Save: A character can catch a falling character with a difficult Climb skill check. They don't take damage from the catch, and only fall if they fail the check badly or the falling character's weight causes a Critical Encumbrance Failure.
  • Improv Fu: The Drunken Master Prestige Class is precisely this kind of martial artist. While favoring bottles and tankards, Drunken Masters can use anything (farm implements, furniture, tools, etc.) to fight. As they get better at it, they can use ladders or similar long item as reach weapons, or tables as tower shields.
  • Instant Armor:
    • Psionics allow you to pull armor (or a weapon) out of somewhere in existence.
    • There are certain spells that provide a form of armor to the caster, such as golden dragonmail or silver dragonmail.
    • The 3.5E supplement Magic Item Compendium has the called armor property, allowing you to not only remove the lengthy times for putting an armor on, but leave it anywhere on the same plane and still be called in an instant (unless another creature seizes and wears it).
    • The Arms and Equipement Guide features an extra (non-magical) property for armors: quick-escape. It doesn't help the quick equipping of the armor, but instead its quick removal (in cases of emergency where an armor is a bad thing) thanks to a special lock on the shield-side hip, which release makes the whole armor fall away. Putting on a quick-escape armor, on the other hand, takes twice as long as normal (which makes it a primary candidate for the called magical property).
  • "Instant Death" Radius: A big problem in the 3rd Edition games is certain monsters being absolutely painful to approach via long melee reach and the Attacks of Opportunity provoked from trying to get close enough to melee them, which will usually hit for heinous amounts of damage due to their high Strength, such as any monster that's larger than you. The absolute worst monsters in this category are Hydras, which can strike with every one of their valid heads upon a single attack of opportunity.
  • Keeping the Handicap: The Flaws system in Edition 3.5. Some of these flaws can be physical handicaps that could be readily healed with magic (for a price if you're not the right class or level), but the character is gaining a free feat in exchange for said flaw. Thus, if it was ever healed the GM will surely rule the feat is lost too, hence why a player would want to keep a handicapped character, for whatever roleplaying reason they can come up with.
  • Knife Outline: 3.5 introduces the "Ranged Pin" feat that allows you to make a grapple attempt with a ranged weapon. The flavor text describes it as pinning the target's clothes to the ground or wall.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: It was at its worst in 3rd/3.5 edition due to significantly lowered character mortality and rules specifically for starting higher level campaigns, leading to far more characters achieving high levels and thus encountering the issue.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules:
    • 3rd Edition in particular stands out by virtue of having numerous subsystems (such as Psionics, Invocations, Binding, Blade Magic, and Incarnum).
    • To give some perspective, the rules for grappling run a whole two pages in the 3rd edition Rules Compendium. The rules for magic items weigh in at 5, and the rules for movement are covered by ten whole pages. And then you have Polymorphing rules, which have been changed so frequently that you need to check the errata instead of the most recently printed book just to make sure you are up to date.
  • Lodged Blade Removal: This trope is a necessity when struck by a magic weapon with the fleshgrinding property. Such a weapon, if left into the wound, will continue to magically grind into the flesh for 5 rounds. Pulling it out isn't an easy task, however, requiring a difficult Strength check.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Beyond the intelligent and/or class-specific items ported from previous editions...
    • The 3.5 rules introduce the Legendary Weapons. Those magic items only bestow a fraction of their powers to ordinary adventurers; to gradually unlock their full potential, a character must adopt the appropriate "Scion" Prestige Class and devote most of his or her career advancing in this class.
    • Also from 3.5, the Dungeon Master Guide II has bonded magic items, which are created through a ritual rather than with the usual item creation feats. The cost is the same as with standard magic items creation, but the magic power imbued only works for the character who'd gone through the ritual. Such items can be already magical or separately enchanted further, but it should be noted that armors, shields and weapons always need at least a +1 enhancement bonus to gain any further magic properties. Thus, if this initial +1 is the magic granted by a ritual, even if later enchanted by a separate spellcaster, all of the weapon or armor's magic will be inactive except for the bonded character.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: 3.5 has the Fate Spinner Prestige Class, where you can shift around good and bad luck, as well as the Fortune's Friend, where having supernatural good luck and unlikely events is a class feature.
  • Made of Indestructium: 3rd Edition Major Artifacts. At this point they say if you destroy one, you also attract the attention of whatever created it. They are probably not happy you destroyed their Magnum Opus. And are many levels higher than you if not a god. If you're lucky, they may be dead, but something powerful enough to create a major artifact tends to not just die...
  • Magic or Psychic?: In 3rd edition, most magic-using classes function by Vancian Magic while Psionics are limited by Mana.
  • Magikarp Power: Wizards in 3.x, due to Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. Same with most casters, especially the infamous CoDzilla combination of "Cleric or Druid".
  • Mark of Shame: A few spells, mostly divine magic, can put such a magical mark on a subject:
    • Mark of judgement (Player's Handbook II) marks opponents of ainvoked Character Alignment opposed to the caster as favored target for allies during a fight.
    • Mark of the outcast (Underdark) is a minor curse putting a mark visible to all on the subject's head, giving penalties to Bluff and Diplomacy checks.
    • Mark of sin (Complete Champion) is a mid-level spell leaving a mystical mark that is invisible but felt by all, making all newly encountered creatures more hostile, and harder to win over by diplomacy.
    • Mark of the unfaithful (Champions of Ruin) is a high-level spell marking a creature as an enemy of the caster's faith, and all beings sharing that faith will feel hostility toward the subject. Note this is one of the rare spells with an "unlimited" range, meaning it can be cast at any distance as long as the victim is clearly identified.
  • Matchlight Danger Revelation: The illustration for the corpse candle spell in the Spell Compendium sourcebook is exactly this trope. The wizard using it finds himself entirely surrounded by spectral undead, along with the caption:
    Corpse candle sometimes reveals things you wish you hadn't seen.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class:
    • The sorcerer, in third edition, is a wizard but with spontaneous casting instead of memorization.
    • Similarly, warlocks, which debuted in Complete Arcane, exist pretty much solely to have a completely different magic system from everyone else, based around spells that they could cast infinitely and generally completely abandoning Vancian Magic: they instead run on selections of spell-like abilities that are for the most part usable at will. They're so blatantly just there to be mechanically different that they don't even really get their own origin, just a slight word-swap of the sorcerer class description substituting fairies for dragons.
    • The Sha'irs from Dragon magazine are arcane casters using small genie-like familiars to retrieve spells from the Elemental planes, thus fitting neither within the "prepared caster" nor "spontaneous caster" groups that govern all other spellcasting classes.
  • Meditating Under a Waterfall: Among the many Planar Touchstones described in the Planar Handbook, there is Mimshan's Curtain, a waterfall located in the Outlands (the True Neutral plane)invoked. This was the meditation spot for the legendary monk Mimshan, and anyone wanting to gain the benefits of the Touchstone has to meditate under the waterfall for 24 hours.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: From the splatbook Oriental Adventures, the feat "Great Throw" allows inflicting damage on a trip attack by swinging a foe overhead. Since nothing in the "prone" condition prevents from being targeted by another trip attack, this can be done again and again during a full-attack action, resulting in this trope. This is especially nasty since the move ignores armor entirely, although it doesn't work on creatures bigger than the tripper.
  • Minmaxer's Delight: Lots, to the point that 4th Edition took great steps to remove them. A few examples:
    • Character Flaws from Unearthed Arcana. A character may take up to two Flaws during character creation. Each one grants a bonus Feat at level 1. Flaws inflict a penalty about 150% as bad as the corresponding Feat's bonus would be (for example, there's a Flaw that grants -3 to Reflex Saves, while the Lightning Reflexes Feat grants +2 to Reflex Saves). That said, there's nothing stopping a player from taking flaws to something they have no intention of doing (such as a non-caster taking -4 to Constitution ability and skill checks, when the only Constitution-based skill is for casting spells) or something that they're already so bad at it that the penalty won't matter, and then adding that Feat to their field of specialization.
    • The Taint of Evil from Heroes of Horror works similarly. Exposure to evil causes the character's body and/or mind to decay... and grants a bonus feat when the second and third category of either is granted (maximum two total bonus feats). The especially delightful thing about Taint is that Undead and Evil Outsiders may ignore the negative effects of Taint and keep the bonus feats. While it's generally not worth it to make a PC who's an Evil Outsider, the Necropolitan template is designed to make Undead PCs with minimal fuss.
    • Unearthed Arcana and Player's Handbook II are loaded with alternate class compositions and alternate class features, including one-for-one swaps like trading a Barbarian's extra move speed for the ability to make a full attack at the end of a charge. This trope is the primary use of most of these alternatives.
  • Mirror Match: The Aleax is a divine construct sent to punish a character who's strayed from his alignment, failed to make the proper sacrifices, or generally enraged a deity. It's identical to its intended victim save for Glowing Eyes of Doom and has all the same stats (except Hit Points) and equipment, plus several other powers and immunities, making it a very difficult opponent. Worst, only the designated victim can harm it; all other party members are powerless to affect an Aleax.
  • Mortality Grey Area:
    • Constructs and The Undead count as neither living nor dead. Depending on the edition and the specific creature, they're immune to some effects that the living can suffer (like Critical Hits and fatigue in 3.5 Edition), but are unaffected (or harmed) by Healing Hands and can't be brought Back from the Dead. The line is further blurred by Eberron's playable Warforged, which are a special "Living Construct" with more of the strengths and weaknesses of true life.
    • The Deathless creature type, introduced in The Book of Exalted Deeds and expanded on by the Eberron setting, represents beings similar to Undead but animated by positive energy (the energy of life) instead of negative. They lack the Revive Kills Zombie properties of undead (making them vulnerable to attacks which drain life force as a living creature would be), and react to Turn Undead and Rebuke Undead in the opposite manner - being rebuked/bolstered by turning and turned/destroyed by rebuking. Spells which distinguish undead from living creatures can generally also detect whether a creature is deathless.
    • Dragon #313 introduces four half-undead templates: Fetch (half-ghost), Gheden (half-zombie), Ghul (half-ghoul) and Katane (half-vampire). Half-undead are living beings, but they have many of the traits, powers and vulnerabilities of their undead progenitors, although in a lesser form. They register as undead to undead-detecting magic, have some resistance to critical hits, energy drain and negative energy damage (but not the full immunity of undead), and are vulnerable to Turn Undead (and holy water), but are only weakened rather than panicked or controlled. Half-undead still age, but at a much slower rate than the base creature, and upon death they have a good chance of rising as full undead.
    • The 3.5 spells shroud of undeath or kiss of the vampire surround the caster in negative energy, making undead confuse her for one of their own. Any spell specifically affecting undead creatures (including Revive Kills Zombie effects) treat the subject as undead. She stays a living being throughout, however, and can still be targeted by spells affecting living subjects. The more powerful undead mask goes one step further by, temporarily, fully giving the subject the Undead creature type, including all of their immunities and weaknesses. The weaker living undeath doesn't grant such drastic changes but makes the subject immune to precision damage and critical hits like an undead.
    • The 3.5 spell spark of life, on the other hand, has the opposite effect: an undead targeted by it loses almost all of the immunities granted by its creature type. For its short duration, it must breathes like a living being and is no longer subject to Revive Kills Zombie — but it is still otherwise considered undead (and is still healed by negative energy).
    • The dolghast from Magic of Eberron is an Aberration with a body that's constantly healing and rotting, giving it the "Half-Dead" special quality. In addition to gaining some of the immunities of undead (including a 50% chance of negating critical hits), it has a unique interaction with positive and negative energy — both are harmful to it, but if it succeeds on its saving throw against such an effect (which would normally negate or reduce damage) it's converted to healing instead.
  • Move in the Frozen Time: The Epic Level Handbook includes a feat called "Spell Stowaway" which allows a character to pick one spell and share in its effects each time it's cast within 300ft (as long as it would have a clear path to travel to you). One of the examples (used by the Phane monster) is choosing time stop so that you join the caster in their accelerated timeframe.
  • Moving Buildings: Stronghold Builder's Guidebook has locomotion as a feature for a fortress as an option. How fast and what kind of movement depends on what you're willing to pay.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mialee the elven female wizard, an iconic character who appears in the illustrations of many a sourcebook in third edition, usually wears a quite revealing brown leather garment, baring her midriff, shoulders and legs.
  • Mundangerous: In 3rd edition, being on any surface (marbles, grease or ice, most prominently) that requires something to balance without 5 ranks in the "balance" skill (which is otherwise not gotten as it's a rare class skill and most times you need to balance you can just fly), will result in being "flat-footed", a fairly big disadvantage, and it affects any land-based foe without the balance ranks.
  • Mystical Jade: The Jade Phoenix Mage is a Prestige Class from the Tome of Battle — Book of Nine Sword. They must be non-evil, and all members are said to be the reincarnations of 13 mythical Kung Fu Wizards. Some of their abilities are linked to the color green, especially the capstone emerald immolation power.
  • National Weapon: Many deities have a preferred weapon that their followers tend to use. For example, the holy symbol for Kurbag is a double-bladed axe. In 3E, the spiritual weapon spell summons a weapon made of pure force that is described as taking the form of the user's deity's favored weapon (or a form specific to alignment for characters without a deity).
  • No-Gear Level: Stripping gear tends to occur if you get captured or contained. The impact varies based on edition: 3e also has unarmed attacks provoke attacks of opportunity (unless you have a feat). The sheer complexity of recalculating the stats of a 3.x character without equipment makes many DMs wary of relying on this too often.
  • Non-Damaging Status Infliction Attack:
    • Special attacks such as tripping or disarming opponents, sundering weapons and armor, and grappling and pinning can all be used by martial characters to weaken opponents without inflicting actual damage. These usually incur an attack of opportunity by nearby enemies unless the user spends a feat on the "Improved" version.
    • Many low-level spells such as color spray, sleep, hypnotic pattern, and cause fear inflict no direct damage, but can immobilize entire groups of enemies at once. Since the damage dealt by spells tends to be dependent on caster level, such "save-or-suck" spells are often a more efficient use of limited spell slots than throwing fireballs around.
    • Clerics can Turn Undead, generating divine power to frighten off hordes of zombies and skeletons. At higher levels this ability can instantly destroy weaker undead monsters.
  • Non-Health Damage:
    • There are various ways for threats to damage The Six Stats. Getting knocked to 0 for any mental stat renders you some form of catatonic, while losing all strength or dexterity makes you physically helpless. Losing all constitution just kills you.
    • The Joystealer, a monster, deals damage to the player's charisma. This can be absolutely devastating for certain player classes, such as bards, which rely heavily on the charisma stat.
    • Most poisons work by damaging one or more ability scores rather than hit points. If it's Strength or Dexterity damage, dropping to zero causes the character to become too weak to move or paralyzed (respectively) until they regain at least one point in the relevant ability score. If it's Constitution damage, dropping to zero is fatal. If a mental stat falls to zero, the character is reduced to a helpless, blithering idiot.
    • The Allip is the ghost of a madman whose touch causes insanity, represented as damage to wisdom.
    • The spell shivering touch is a Minmaxer's Delight because it's low-level, yet deals enough Dexterity damage to paralyze a full-grown dragon and has No Saving Throw.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • The "Plant" creature type from 3rd edition onward includes fungal creatures such as myconids.
    • From the Tome of Battle – Book of Nine Sword, the various martial maneuvers and stances have names a bit on the metaphorical side (inspired by real-life martial arts). The great majority are descriptive enough, but some of them... less so. In particular, the "Hydra Slaying Strike" is useful against any opponent that likes making lots of attacks per round — but due to the wording of the hydra's attacking rules, it is the one monster not impeded at all by the move.
    • The Throw Anything feat doesn't actually allow you to throw anything — it merely removes the standard attack penalty for throwing a weapon that isn't meant to be thrown. As if to make fun of this, one class, Hulking Hurler, has a feature entitled Really Throw Anything, which allows the character to throw anything that they can lift without penalty.
  • The Nudifier:
    • The disrobe spell from the third-party supplement Book of Erotic Fantasy. Although it doesn't affect magical items, it's still a good way to score a Defeat by Modesty.
    • A few core spells can be diverted from their normal usage to this effect. Notably, a baleful polymorph spell leaves items and clothing unaffected, thus even if dispelled, temporarily suppressed by Anti-Magic, or reverted by a natural shapechanger, the subject will end up stark naked. Even a disintegrate spell can be aimed toward clothes instead of the one wearing them, although it's overkill. The invisibility spell can also be directed at objects, in which case the clothing isn't removed, but the visual effect is the same. The spell telekinesis (and the psionic power telekinetic maneuver) can perform a distant grapple, and among the options of grappling is removing items worn, thus telekinesis can be used to strip a subject.
    • Magic of Incarnum introduces soulmelds, which have the appearance of various clothing or pieces of equipment, but are entirely made of soul energy. Although those are solid (as well as irremovable and nigh-invulnerable), it wouldn't be a good idea to be wearing nothing but shaped soulmelds, as they can still be "unshaped" by a specialized form of Dispel Magic, or cease to exist in an Anti-Magic zone.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Has its own page.
  • One-Handed Zweihänder: There's a feat called Monkey Grip that allows a character to use two-handed weapons as one-handed weapons. As the system is one of the bigger cases of Shields Are Useless, there is an inherent damage boost to two-handed weapon use and even with the feat you suffer a penalty, it's common to see comments on how bad it is.
  • One to Million to One:
    • From 3rd edition Unapproachable East, a Telflammar Shadowlord of at least 5th level, if dealt a killing blow while in shadows or darkness, has a chance to "discorporate" instead, turning into dozens of flitting shadows which vanish. The character basically cease to exist until the next sunset, where it reappears intact within a mile.
    • From 3.5's Fiendish Codex I, one of twenty random death effects for a demon is for the defeated infernal to collapse into a horde of inch-high duplicates of itself, which fight each other until one remains, which vanishes in a puff of smoke.
  • Organ Dodge: The Warshaper is a Prestige Class open to shapeshifters. One of the first powers gained is "Morphic Immunities", which allows them to redistribute vital organs whenever in a different form than their own, gaining immunity to stunning and critical hits.
  • Paying in Coins: A module for Edition 3.5 has an example where doing this is to your advantage. You run across some barbarian halflings who use a barter system — which means 1 gold piece (weighing about 1 third of an ounce, or 7.5 grams) is not much use to to them. However, the equivalent in copper pieces (100cp = 1 gp in this edition) means 2 pounds of metal they can melt down and use.
  • Perception Filter:
    • The spells hide from animals and hide from undead make creatures of the relevant type unable to detect you or your allies by any means, even via True Sight and other special senses. However, the entire veil is lifted if anyone touches or attacks the observers, and sentient undead have a chance of seeing through it. Both spells are classified as Abjuration, rather than Illusion like invisibility and similar spells.
    • The cloud mind psionic power (and its multi-target upgrade mass cloud mind) inflicts this on a creature who fails their save, though unlike the above it has the mind-affecting descriptor (meaning it doesn't work on mindless creatures or those of certain types like undead). Unlike most forms of invisibility, it does not end when you attack, though the target gets another chance to shake off the effect each time you attack them.
    • The shroud of undeath spell and its higher-level counterpart undead mask temporarily grant a creature some of the properties of undeath, which has the side effect that mindless undead do not perceive them as an enemy. Shroud of undeath ends if you attack an undead creature while under its effect.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The Complete Scoundrel sourcebook includes the skill trick "Opening Tap". It gives a rogue a chance to open a lock without any tools, just by tapping it with a hard, blunt object.
  • Perpetually Protean:
    • From the Monster Manual II, the Grimalkin is a shapeshifter whose true form is a large blue-gray housecat, but which can turn into any animal close in size. Their chosen form depends on the situation, but in combat they will change shape every round to confuse the opponent and make it difficult to adopt a strategy.
    • One of the many monsters featured in the Epic Level Handbook is the Hagunemnon, a pretty obvious Shout-Out to the Haggunenons of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Like their inspiration, they are constantly taking on new shapes and possess a xenophobic hatred of all non-shapeshifters. More worryingly, they are known to travel extensively in search of new shapes to copy — and they prefer to kill their targets once they've finished acquiring their forms...
  • Poison Is Evil: In 3.5, according to the Book of Exalted Deeds, using poison to deal damage is an evil act because it causes undue suffering. Using ravages, however, is a-OK, because ravages only wrack and torture the bodies of evil creatures. (Using poison against an evil creature is still evil even if it has the exact same effect.)
  • Poke in the Third Eye:
    • "Live My Nightmare", a Spelltouched feat in Third Edition's Unearthed Arcana book of variant rules, allows a character who survived (or was revived from) a phantasmal killer spell to unleash a phantasmal killer attack born of their very worst nightmares upon anyone trying to pry into their mind by magic or other means.
    • "Hostile Mind" (from Expanded Psionic Handbook) and its upgrade "Improved Hostile Mind" (from Complete Psionic) are feats that can inflict damage to anyone trying to use a power from the telepathy discipline on the subject — even with beneficial or harmless effects.
    • The remote view trap psionic power shoots lightning back through scrying abilities, and there are several powers, feats and class features that do nasty things to the users of Telepathy powers.
    • Third Edition's Book of Vile Darkness has the psychic poison spell (which despite its name is more akin to a curse, although it mostly follows the mechanics of poisons) for this very purpose. When cast on a creature, item or area, it means that anyone next trying to use divination or mind-affecting magic on the subject is exposed to the psychic poison. The effects are variable, but always involve some reduction of mental stats, which can be very debilitating for a spellcaster.
    • 3.5th Edition Dragon Magic introduces the spell mind of the labyrinth. Any mind-affecting spell or effect attempted at the subject will result in confusion for the caster, or even a dominate person effect if the subject of mind of the labyrinth sacrifices the remaining duration of the spell.
  • Power at a Price: Some feats have disadvantages in addition to the perks they provide.
    • Most notably, the Abyssal Heritor category of feats (from Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss), which are drawing on some demonic ancestry. Each of them induces a -2 penalty to a specific, different skill, for various reasons. Also, having more than one Abyssal Heritor feat will skew the character's alignment toward Chaotic, if not already (and those feats get more powerful the more you have, which is a strong motivation to take several).
    • The Craven feat offers an excellent boost to any rogue using sneak attacks, but also comes with a penalty to fear saves.
    • The Mage Slayer feat is a strong weapon against spellcasters, but also cause a stiff reduction to caster level, meaning it is mostly favored by non-magic-users.
  • Power Glows:
    • An entire series of cleric spells and psionic powers in 3.5 allow you to charge up power in your body and then shoot it as laser beams. As long as you haven't exhausted your stock of energy blasts, you actually function as a 60-foot light source, the color of the light being determined by how powerful the spell is you're using.
    • Also the "Nimbus of Light" feat and its improved version from Book of Exalted Deeds, surrounding the character with an aura quite harmful to The Undead.
  • Power-Strain Blackout:
    • The Wilder psionic class has the wild surge power, which can boost Psychic Powers above their current level, but with a risk of causing a "psychic enervation", which daze them for a full round afterward and cost more power points.
    • The "Reserve of Strength" feat allows a spellcaster to boost his caster level, and push the level cap on a spell effect, but in exchange for being stunned for 1-3 rounds, depending on the importance of the boost. If the character is immune to stunning, the spell becomes instead Cast from Hit Points.
  • Prestige Class: A major focus of add-on books: by the time of the change to 4E there were probably in the low hundreds of prestige classes, and only about thirty base classes. Given the increased flexibility they offered to builds, it was common for characters to be pre-planned with a specific prestige class (or several) in mind.
  • Pretend to Be Brainwashed:
    • The spelltouched feat "False Pretenses" in the Unearthed Arcana can be taken by anyone having endured a charm or dominate spell. If the subject succeeds a saving throw against a charm or compulsion, he can make the caster believe he'd failed. Even if the subject resisted a domination effect involving telepathic commands, the character still receive them — he's just not obligated to follow the instructions.
    • The spell disobedience from the Complete Scoundrel sourcebook can suppress any mind-control effect already affecting the target, while also tricking the controller into believing its power is still active. Again, the subject still receive commands and instructions, but can either disregard the orders or can bluff and go along with them for a while.
  • Pretend We're Dead:
    • Some spells (notably shroud of undeath and undead mask in 3rd Edition) can give any living subject a negative energy aura, which makes all undead perceive him or her as another undead. Nonintelligent undead such as zombies will thus completely ignore said subject unless attacked first. Intelligent undead are initially fooled too, but if no further disguise or pretense is used those can still put two plus two together.
    • The Book of Vile Darkness has the "Lichloved" feat, where, through repeated necrophilia and worse things, you begin to resemble one of the undead. Nonintelligent undead will ignore you completely, while intelligent undead view you in a better light than most breathing creatures.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide:
    • Generally averted with most forms of mind-control, with which obviously self-destructive orders won't be followed. And even if never instructed to, dominated characters will still fulfill their basic survival needs, like eating or sleeping. It is still quite possible to cause harm indirectly, though, for example by forcing them to attack dangerous monsters.
    • The suggestion spell states that the command has to be "reasonable". No telling them to impale themselves on a spear or anything like that, but you could suggest that a pool of acid is nice refreshing water and they could use a bath right now (this is, in fact, the example the game itself gives).
    • The Bard spell puppeteer (from the Spell Compendium) force the victim to mimic whatever the caster is doing. This can include suicidal actions, although those grants a new saving throw.
    • The spell black karma curse (from Player's Handbook II) compels the target to hit itself with its most damaging attack, but just once.
    • A power in the Psionic Handbook is called death urge. As the name implies, it activates a latent suicidal impulse, causing the victim to immediately turn their weapons upon themselves. This Play-by-Post deserves mention, if only for the sheer levels of Overkill involved explanation .
  • Psychic Block Defense:
    • Wilders have the Volatile Mind class feature, which exhausts psions who try to use telepathy on them.
    • In 3.5th edition, using the spell detect thoughts or the psionic power read thoughts on a subject with Intelligence 26 or more (and at least 10 more points that the mind-reader) results in the spell or power ending and the mind-reader being stunned.
    • You also have the spell mind blank, which renders you completely immune to any and all mind-affecting effects for a day once invoked. It also has the added benefit of making you undetectable to divination effects from anyone less than a deity.
    • The Book of Vile Darkness has the Corrupt spell forbidden speech, which prevents the subject from speaking (or writing, gesturing, etc.) about a specific topic. This includes telepathic attempts at recovering the information, which are blocked too.
    • Ascetic PCs (with a Vow of Poverty) of at least 8th level gain Mind Shielding, which prevents their thoughts from being read or their Character Alignment being detected.invoked
    • The "White Mask" tattoo of the Tattooed Monk Prestige Class gives a similar protection as above, as well as a substantial bonus to Bluff checks since their emotions can't be read.
    • The Cerebrex Prestige Class from Dragon Magazine gains Telepathic Immunity at 5th level. Unlike other forms of permanent immunities, it can also be turned on or off at will.
  • Psychic Powers: 3rd edition has the psion, psychic warrior, soulknife, wilder, ardent, divine mind, lurk, and erudite all as base classes. If you go to third-party books, even more exist.
  • Psychometry: In D&D 3.5, Seers have access to a power called object reading that lets them touch an object and learn information about its previous owners. There's also a magic item called "gloves of object reading" that grants a similar ability.
  • Public Secret Message: The 3E skill "Innuendo" serves this exact purpose. It was removed in 3.5E (turned into a part of the "Bluff" skill), presumably because it was too specific to be worth spending skill points on.
  • Quirky Bard: Bards are a versatile support caster who in practice traded versatility for power, never outshining any class in any specific role while also being rather rubbish in simple combat. The 3.5E splatbook did a lot to turn the Bard into a more effective Jack of All Stats.
  • Racial Transformation: The spellscale are a humanoid offshoot race with a bit of Dragon Ancestry. There is also a magical rite by which a spellscale can permanently transform a willing humanoid into another spellscale, and there are unfounded conspiracy theories that the transformation can be forced.
  • Random Transportation: There's the legendary and infamous Comeback Inn, where the customers literally can't leave unless someone from the outside pulls them out. The 3.x Edition campaign book reveals that the building has been very heavily enchanted: exiting the doors will teleport you back into the building, attempting to jump out the windows or off the roof plops you back in the main hall, and trying to use spells like 'dimension door' or 'teleport' just moves you about the Inn. The only people immune to the enchantments are the innkeeper himself and his direct employees. And the usual way you can leave is if you pay your bill and the innkeeper was happy with your behavior as a guest.
  • Reduced to Dust:
    • This is the result of a disintegrate spell being cast on a creature that fails its save against it.
    • Undead that fail their saving throw after being struck with a magic weapon with the disruption property or killed by the disrupting weapon, sunbeam or sunray spells are reduced to dust.
  • Reincarnated as a Non-Humanoid: As in AD&D, the results of reincarnate are based on a d100 roll and can only be an animal or a playable race. Unlike previous editions though, in 3E it's explicitly stated that a reincarnated player retains their previous intellect and retains their class abilities (with new stat modifiers from their new body); before it was left to the DM's discretion.
  • Ring on a Necklace: The wearer of a Hand of Glory necklace can benefit from a third magic ring (over the usual limit of two at a time) by putting the ring on one of the Hand's fingers.
  • Role-Playing Endgame: The Prestige Class "Risen Martyr" from the Book of Exalted Deeds allows a martyred character to return to life as a Deathless. In exchange each new Character Level they gain must be in Risen Martyr, and when there are no more levels of the class left to take, they're brought back to the Heavens for good.
  • The Rule of First Adopters: One of the first full-length third-party books to be published under the Open Game License was The Book of Erotic Fantasy, a rulebook for R- and X-rated 3.5 adventuring.
  • Running on All Fours: From the 3.5th edition Monster Manual IV, the varags are feral goblinoids who move and run on all fours. Thus, they are twice as fast as most similar-sized humanoids.
  • Sacred Flames: The 3E divine spell flame strike calls down a bolt of fire from the heavens that does half fire damage and half divine damage. The divine half is not subject to damage resistance to fire-based attacks.
  • Sense-Impaired Monster:
    • Creatures with the "blindsight" special ability use non-visual senses such as smell or hearing to compensate for loss of vision to perceive their surroundings within the specified range. This negates penalties for being blind, as well as other creatures' invisibility or concealment (including miss chance from spells like displacement or blur); however, a creature with blindsight can't make out visual or color contrast, meaning for example that they can't read. The "blindsense" ability is a weaker form of blindsight with more penalties.
    • Creatures with the "tremorsense" special ability are able to detect other creatures out to a specified range by the vibrations they give off when they move, including such things as the somatic components of spells. Normally this functions through transmission of the vibrations through the ground; however, aquatic creatures with tremorsense are able to detect vibrations through the surrounding water.
  • Sexually Transmitted Superpowers: The Book of Vile Darkness and Book of Exalted Deeds sourcebooks have the feats "Lichloved" and "Nymph's Kiss", both of which provide some minor magical benefits in exchange for maintaining "friendly" relationships with an intelligent undead or fey being, respectively. While technically neither one require the relationship to be sexual, it is very obvious that it is expected to be.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing:
    • The baleful polymorph spell makes clothes and equipment fall around the transformed victim. Note that creatures with the Shapechanger subtype can regain their true form at will, but that doesn't solve the problem of recovering their gear. In most other cases, shapeshifting does include clothes, though.
    • The disintegrate spell can turn a creature to dust but leave its equipment intact. It can be specifically aimed at disintegrating an item and leave the wearer intact if the caster chooses so (most don't, especially when valuable magic items are concerned).
  • Shapeshifting Heals Wounds: 3.5 Edition: Downplayed with the Wild Shape power or the polymorph and shapechange spells, which restore Hit Points equal to a full night's rest when the target transforms. However, shapechange lets them transform once per turn, so they can quickly heal completely.
  • Shields Are Useless: A commonly held opinion about shields in 3E due to what they give you (a linear increase to AC compared to extra attacks or double Power Attack damage), the fact that most magic attacks ignore your shield bonus, and the existence of animated shields.
  • Shockwave Stomp:
    • The stomp psionic power knocks enemies prone and does nonlethal damage to them. Half-Giants automatically have stomp as a racial ability.
    • The more powerful greater stomp sends a shock through a narrow line in the ground; those that can't avoid it are also sent prone and suffer real damage.
    • The earthbolt Wu Jen spell involves striking the ground and causing a line of sand, earth and stone to erupt from it, striking everything on its path.
    • From the Tome of Battle - Book of Nine Swords, the high-level Stone Dragon maneuver "Earthstrike Quake" consists in a weapon strike to the ground that sends everybody prone in a 20-foot radius (friends and foes alike).
  • Signs of the End Times: The 3.5 sourcebook Elder Evils provides one sign for each Elder Evil.
    • Zargon the Returner is heralded by an increase in extreme weather.
    • Father Llymic's awakening causes the sun to dim and magic that creates light to weaken, until both disappear entirely. It also gets colder and colder, and the glazier Llymic is imprisoned under starts moving at an accelerated rate.
    • Atropus the World Born Dead's arrival causes necromancy to become stronger, the dead start to randomly rise as zombies and skeletons, until every dead person rises as zombies, stronger than usual. The entire world is desecrated, and healing magic weaken. A strange black dot in the sky gradually grows.
  • Slippery Skid:
    • The first-level grease spell exists for this purpose since AD&D1 expansions and on.
    • Psions in 3rd edition have their own version of grease, also called ectoplasmic sheen.
    • Also a dedicated magical item — the Oil of Slipperiness.
    • Ball bearings are sold in sets of 1,000, and the description lists this trope as their intended use.
    • Some cold or ice spells can be used to this effect too by icing the floor. Notably sleet storm, which covers a larger area than grease and obstructs vision to boot.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: The 3rd Edition DMG mentions a note played on a lute as a possible key to open a magical door.
  • Smoke Out: From the Tome of Battle – Book of Nine Swords, the Desert Wind maneuver "Leaping Flame" invokes such an effect. A character mastering it can disappear in a burst of flame and smoke when attacked (either from close or at range) and reappear right next to the attacker (if less than 100 feet away). In this case, it is an actual teleportation effect, though.
  • Snake Charmer: The Complete Adventurer book has a magical item called "Flute of the Snake", which can be used both to control and summon snakes.
  • Speed Echoes: Dragon #337 proposes a feat for sorcerers, Spell Graft, gaining them some supernatural abilities in exchange for sacrificing spells. Among others, the "After Images" option gives sorcerer who sacrificed the spell mirror images to leave behind frozen images of himself whenever he moves, confusing opponents and making him harder to hit.
  • Spell Book:
    • Still the standard for wizards, who learns new spells by scribing them in a spell book, and prepare them by consulting it every morning. The "starter" spell book of an apprentice wizard is free, but adding new spells to it and buying new books can get very expensive. Sorcerers notably don't need one, their magic being "in their blood", but they have a much reduced spell selection in exchange.
    • The Wu Jen and Death Master are also arcane base classes using a spell book (or an oriental-flavored equivalent in the Wu Jen's case). A few Prestige Classes also uses spell books without formal wizard training — Chameleon, Corrupt Avenger, Cultist of the Shattered Peak, Ebonmar Infiltrator, Hoardstealer, Merchant Prince, Prime Underdark Guide, Telflammar Shadowlord, Thayan Slaver...
    • The archivist class uses divine magic (the kind clerics and druids use) through a prayerbook in a manner similar to wizards instead of praying for them like other divine casters. Thus an archivist must learn each spell separately, unlike other divine casters who can just pray for any spell in their class list... but the archivist can learn and cast any and all divine spells, with no restriction.
  • Spell Levels: 3rd Edition brought about spell level 0, increasing the number of levels to 10. Clerics and druids had their "max" for spell levels increased from 7 to 9, to put them on the same power plateau as arcane spellcasters. As such — clerics, druids, sorcerers, and wizards have ten spell levels (0-9); bards have seven (0-6), and paladins and rangers have four (1-4).
  • Spin Attack:
    • There's a feat (with a long list of prerequisites) called Whirlwind Attack. Guess what that does. Notably, the feat is almost as poor a maneuver in the game as it would be in real life. The exception would be using reach weapons (that allow you to melee attack from farther away than close-quarters), making this a less silly option. Unless you're using a whip, since it has the longest reach of all melee weapons, and there are several excellent whip types in non-core books, right up to theinvoked Game-Breaker psionic Prestige Class that allows you to create a weapon out of Pure Energy. And empower it with more Pure Energy. And use feats to make it hit harder, and ignore armor. However, this only applied to 3.0 rules, as in 3.5 the feat was changed so that it explicitly could only be used against targets that were adjacent to the person using it and also prevented it from being used in combination with the Cleave and Great Cleave feats, which dropped it down from Awesome, but Impractical to Cool, but Inefficient level.
    • The Iron Heart school from Tome of Battle contains a number of maneuvers like this, culminating in "Adamantine Hurricane" which lets you strike every opponent twice with improved accuracy and move in the same round.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: The feat to perform this is called "Spinning Defense" (from Dragon Magazine #331). It requires a polearm and focusing entirely on defense, but allow the use of Deflect Arrows an unlimited number of times (while it's usually limited to one projectile per round).
  • Spin-Off: Pathfinder, created by the former publisher of Dragon magazine, began life as a setting for 3.5 Edition before being developed into its own derivative ruleset and marketed as an alternative to Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. The rules for Pathfinder 1E are so similar that it's been jokingly called "3.75 Edition": nearly any 3E splat can be ported to it in minutes.
  • Stamina Burn: Characters who heavily exert themselves may take either nonlethal damage (which knocks things out instead of killing them) or the Fatigued and then Exhausted conditions, which last until they've had a chance to rest. They can also be inflicted in other ways:
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The 3.5 edition supplement Exemplars of Evil has a monk alternate class feature called "Invisible Fist". It allows one to turn invisible for 1 round every 4 rounds. Very useful in fights, of course, but can also be used to make sneaky entrances and departures, without wasting any resources for such theatrics.
  • Stealthy Teleportation: The stealthiest of all teleportation spells is certainly translocation trick (from Magic of Faerun and Spell Compendium). Not only does the caster and target switch locations, they also exchange appearances through an illusion; thus there is no visual clues at all that the translocation happened.
  • Sticky Situation:
    • Tanglefoot Bags are alchemical items that burst open when thrown, miring the target to a mild degree.
    • The web spell is a staple of most editions, creating a mass of sticky strands that entangles its victims like a spiderweb. It also has a few variants, like ectoplasmic web (Ghostwalk) which also affects incorporeal creatures, or ice web (Frostburn) which deals cold damage on contact.
    • The Race of the Dragons sourcebook adds the sticky floor spell, that sticks all creatures in contact with the floor. It is a favorite of kobold sorcerers to protect their lairs.
    • The spell resinous tar (from Complete Mage) isn't as powerful, but it can still hinder movement on a solid surface made sticky and make it harder to stand up. It can also be cast on objects, thus taking more time to pick one from the floor, drop it, or equip it, although the spell also gives a bonus against getting disarmed.
  • Summon Binding:
    • The spells magic circle against alignment can be used in combination with the planar binding and dimensional anchor spells to imprison a summoned Outsider of the specified alignment within the location for as long as the circle of powdered silver making up the magic circle remains unbroken (though the spells have to be renewed periodically).
    • The spell line summon monster creates a short-lived projection of the creature rather than call it up in the flesh, but the creature must either attack the summoner's enemies or obey any instructions the summoner can communicate to them.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Starting with 1st edition, quite a few AD&D monsters have the ability to cause fear as an innate power:
    • Various spells such as scare and cause fear (the reversed form of remove fear) can temporarily frighten an opponent.
    • Certain creatures have the ability to cause fear in opponents, such as androsphinxes (roar), beholders (one of their eyes), some demons, devils, dragons (roar), mummies and satyr (by playing their pipes).
      • All dragons in some editions are constantly surrounded by an aura of fear that sends any low-level character into panic. They can, however, turn it off for a brief time. A few other monsters also have fear auras, such as liches.
      • In 3.5 it's not a magical or psionic effect: dragons are just plain scary. Mechanically, if a dragon with greater hit dice than you does anything threatening, you have to roll your save.
    • One of the beholder's ten small eyes can cause fear in the victim it looks at.
    • Demons:
      • The demon princes Demogorgon, Juiblex, Orcus and Yeenoghu can instill fear in a target as one of their innate abilities.
      • The demon prince Graz'zt causes fear in all within 60 feet who see and hear his displeasure.
      • The Type II, Type III, Type IV and Type VI demons can act on other creatures as if using a Wand of Fear on them.
      • Babau, Bar-Igura, Baron and Marquis cambions, chasme, and rutterkin can cause fear by touch.
    • All devils have the ability to engender fear in living things. The exact details are different for each devil.
      • Arch devils inflict fear by looking at others. Asmodeus with his gaze, Baalzebul with his glance, Dispater by staring, Geryon by glaring, Amon, Mammon and Mephisto by gaze and Belial by stare.
      • Other named devils: Bael in a 20 foot radius, bearded devils and Titivilus by touch, Glasya and Hutijin by speaking to victims, and Moloch with a Breath Weapon.
      • Barbed devils cause fear by striking an opponent, bone devils generate fear in a five foot radius, erinyes affect anyone who looks at them, ice devils radiate fear in a ten foot radius, malebranche exude fear in a five foot radius, and pit fiends shed fear in a 20 foot radius.
    • All dragons of adult age (51 years) and older radiate fear by flying overhead or charging. Depending on how many hit dice the victim has, it can cause them to flee in panic, be paralyzed with fear or just take a penalty to hit.
    • Brass dragons have a breath weapon that consists of a gas that causes fear in anyone who breathes it.
    • When a dragonne roars, the sound can inflict fear on anyone who hears it, which will sap 50% of their strength.
    • Just seeing a lich causes any creature with less than 5 Character Levels or hit dice to flee in panic.
    • The sight of a mummy can make any creature paralyzed with terror.
    • A satyr can play music with its pipes to inflict fear on any opponent that hears it.
    • The roar of an androsphinx can create fright in any creature within 500 feet, making them flee in panic for 30 minutes.
    • Any being that looks into a yeti's eyes is rigid with fright for the next three combat rounds.
    • The phantasmal killer spell forces the target to save, or immediately die of fright.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: In the evil sourcebook, The Book of Vile Darkness, crystallized angel tears count as minor artifacts. When collected using the proper ritual in places where celestials have felt great sorrow or pain (or harvested from a captive angel Forced to Watch horrifically evil deeds), the tears can be fired from slings or thrown as Unholy Hand Grenades.
  • Synchronization: The empathic link between a wizard and familiar (or another character with an animal companion/paladin mount) is usually too weak to count as full synchronization. However, there is a Corrupt spell, master's lament from Heroes of Horror, which can strengthen this link to the point that any damage or magical effect suffered by the familiar or the master will be transferred to the other.
  • Talking Weapon: The 3.5E Dungeon Master's Guide describes a talking sword so chatty that it's said to be best suited for a deaf swordsman.
  • Tall Is Intimidating:
    • A character gains a +4 bonus on Intimidate checks for every size category that he or she is larger than the target.
    • The towering oak ranger spell (Spell Compendium) gives a +10 bonus on Intimidate checks through the power of the forests.
      You loom over others like a mighty tree dwarfs lesser plants.
  • The Teetotaler:
    • This trope applies to anyone who takes the "Vow of Abstinence" Feat, detailed in the Book of Exalted Deeds. By swearing off any and all intoxicating, stimulating, depressant, or hallucinogenic substances (including caffeine), the oath taker becomes very resistant to poisons and drugs (the ones that others attempt to administer against his will, that is).
    • The Wu Jen class follows a number of taboos to keep being able to cast spells. Among the taboos suggested is the one to never drink alcohol.
  • Tele-Frag: The Blood Magus prestige class has this as an ability. You can teleport by simply entering one living being, and coming out of another one you know, wherever they are. It's normally harmless for everybody involved, but if you wish, you can make what the game charmingly calls a "catastrophic exit", literally exploding your way out of the destination point.
  • Teleport Interdiction:
    • Dimensional anchor prevents the affected being from being moved by any forms of teleporting and planeshifting.
    • Anticipate teleportation (D&D 3.5 Complete Arcane), while not blocking teleportation entirely, delays teleporters' arrival to allow ambushing them.
  • Teleport Spam:
    • Every edition has the blink dog, a monster who teleport spams as a free action.
    • In 3.5, the totemist's Blink Shirt soulmeld, specifically inspired by blink dogs, gives short-ranged teleportation every round of every day.
    • Lots of teleportation spells and abilities can be combined with the Telflammar Shadowlord, who gets a full attack every time he teleports. All of this is brought to its apotheosis with the Chrono-Legionnaire build.
    • The Sun School tactical feat boosts these various teleportation methods through its "Flash of Sunset" maneuver, which gives a free attack after any instant displacement (even a dimension door, despite the latter normally preventing any action right after the teleportation out of disorientation).
  • Teleporter's Visualization Clause: The teleport spell has a percentage chance of failing — meaning anything from landing off-target to suffering a Teleporter Accident, also decided by percentile dice — that increases the less familiar the caster is with their target location. Greater teleport removes the chance of damage but still requires at least a good description of the destination: if the description you have isn't good enough, you simply reappear back where you started.
  • Terminal Transformation: If a creature undergoes the ritual to become a Necropolitan without enough Experience Points to pay the cost, no sooner do they transform than they're Reduced to Dust beyond any means of recovery.
  • Test of Pain: The shriver is a Robotic Torture Device from the Nine Hells that grants magical augmentations to people who can endure the literally hellish experience without passing out or screaming in pain. If they can't pass a series of saving throws that scales with the damage they've suffered, they don't get the reward.
  • Thunderbolt Iron:
    • Two examples are adamantine and starmetal. Both have extraordinary hit points and hardness. They also ignore hardness under a certain number so they are good for sundering other objects. In addition, starmetal is a version of adamantine that has the bonus property of causing extra harm to Outsiders thanks to its "affinity for the Material Plane". The book that introduces starmetal, Complete Arcane, introduces a prestige class called the Green Star Adept, where you eat starmetal until you turn into an indestructible person made of starmetal.
    • Kheferu, found in Sandstorm, the truest form of this trope in D&D, is literally made of tempered meteorites. It automatically overcomes the Damage Reduction of all Earth-based creatures, regardless of any other requirements the creature's DR has.
  • Too Many Halves: Mechanically possible by abusing half-monster creature templates. Some supplementary materials try to Handwave this by say that species that can produce half-X templates have such strong genes that the template still applies even if the child is a quarter or eighth of that species, but that still doesn't account for the fact that certain half-X templates have full-blooded counterparts as templates and that the baseline races that these templates can be applied to include various Heinz Hybrids, some of which are stated to be distant descendants of said templates. This means that you can have a Fiendish Half-Fiend Tiefling who is 153% Fiend and 97% Human.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: The Book of Vile Darkness includes rules for torture that increase one's susceptibility to Bluff checks by how successful the torture is. In other words, the better you are at getting the subject to say anything at all, the more likely you are to fall for them lying.
  • Tutorial Failure:
    • One 3.5 Prestige Class that fits this trope would be the Abjurant Champion; a Magic Knight class that grants a character bonuses to Abjuration spells (such as shield). It mentions mage armor as being another such spell, seemingly disregarding the fact that mage armor is placed in Conjuration.
    • Complete Psionics includes feats that make a character a descendant of the Mind Flayers. This completely ignores the process Mind Flayers reproduce by.(They're sexless egg-layers. The only way illithid hybrids are created is "plug a larva into host other than Medium humanoid".) This typically gets waved away as either the adventure's ancestors were enhanced slaves breed to be hosts, or, because Mind Flayers are supposed to come from the future, the adventurer is themselves an ancestor to the Mind Flayers.
    • The "Apostle of Peace" class is required to take the crippling "Vow of Poverty" which disallows the character from owning almost any wealth. The picture of the class has quite a few magic items (which are very expensive) in it. May be justified if the character has an immediate need for the items, for whatever reason, but the expectation is that as soon as the need is gone the item would be sold and the gold donated or given to one's god. That being said, it's actually a truer example of how many players actually play such characters.
    • The Ruby Knight Vindicator example character worships Saint Cuthbert, but the class requires Wee Jas worship. (It suggests DMs should make versions for other deities the deity requirement, but it's officially just a suggestion.)
    • In 3E, The Epic Level Handbook has a creature it claims even the gods can't stand against, but that seems questionable when that creature's stats are compared with some of the gods' stats in Deities and Demigods. Judging from the Deities and Demigods stats and the stats of the titular creatures of the book Elder Evils, the gods could easily crush the elder evils even though the latter's book's intro describes them as so powerful that even the gods would think twice before fighting them.
  • Uncatty Resemblance:
    • The sourcebook Complete Arcane features a wizard on the cover who looks a lot like the cat familiar perched on his shoulder: they both have glowing eyes, black hair, bangled dreadlocks/tail, and a chinstrap of gray hairs.
    • Same thing with the Complete Mage cover, featuring an albino wizard with red eyes and her hair worn in twin tails atop the head, similar to the tails of the two albino rats on her shoulders.
    • Changeling wizards can choose the "Morphic Familiar" power through a racial substitution level, giving their minion the same Voluntary Shapeshifting as its master, so it can appear as any other animal commonly made into a familiar.
  • Undead Counterpart: Like many other things, handled through the mechanic of "templates". A basic zombie involves, among other things, changing the creature type to "undead" and itsinvoked Character Alignment to Neutral Evil, changing all racial hit dice to d12 and removing class level hit dice, and adding damage reduction 5/slashing. Other undead templates (like "skeleton", "ghost", "lich" or "vampire") exist; the most dangerous are those keeping the class levels and powers of the original creature, in addition to getting undead traits.
  • Uniqueness Rule: In 3.5th Edition, a character that has the same feat more than once doesn't have the effects stack (unless the feat description says otherwise). 4e and later added a limitation to only take a given feat once.
  • Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: The skill list for 3E had a lot of skills that were arguably redundant with each other. Subsequent editions and most adaptations slimmed down the list considerably in the interest of Rule of Fun.
  • Vague Stat Values: Detect magic, detect evil and similar spells only differentiate faint, moderate, strong, overwhelming, and residual auras rather than reveal a specific Spell Level or creature level.
  • Vow of Celibacy: The 3E supplement Book of Exalted Deeds includes a "Vow of Chastity" feat, among several other "Vow of X" feats following the same basic format. This one in particular requires the character to abstain from both marriage and sex, and in return grants +4 to saves against charm and phantasm effects. Breaking it voluntarily costs you the feat's benefits permanently, while breaking it due to Mind Control costs you the benefits until you can get an atonement spell cast for you. (There's no ruling in the book on how it interacts with rape.) This feat is a prerequisite for the Beloved of Valarian Prestige Class, which allows the character to acquire a unicorn as a mount that will leave if they ever willingly couple with a mortal.
  • Walk on Water: Beyond the various water-walking spells, powers and magic items ported from previous editions...
    • The spell balancing lorecall allows one to "balance" on liquids and semi-solid (like mud or snow) if the character has enough ranks in the Balance skill. However, the difficulty of the check increases every round, so the subject is going to sink sooner or later.
    • The Elocater Prestige Class has a psionic power called "Scorn Earth" which makes one float 1 feet above the ground. It works over liquids too, and thus allows moving above water without trouble.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Discussed in the Book of Exalted Deeds. One of the introductory passages talks about what it is like to be truly "Good", noting that one who cites all the evil things they have not done is at best Neutral rather than an active force of Good.
  • Wall Run:
    • The 3.5th edition Expanded Psionic Handbook has a psionic feat which pretty much allows to treat walls as any flat surface: "Up the Wall". If you can't reach an horizontal surface at the end of your movement, though, you fall flat on your back.
    • The skill trick "Walk the Walls" and the Monk alternate class feature "Wall Walker" are more limited in distance, and only allow moving up or down.
    • The spell balancing lorecall allows balancing on vertical surfaces if the character has enough skill ranks in Balance, and move up and down with much more freedom of movement than when climbing.
    • The psionic power urban strider, when augmented with no less than 8 power points, allows one to walk on completely vertical surfaces at normal speed.
  • Weapon Specialization: 3rd Edition has feats like "Weapon Focus" and "Weapon Specialization", which only work with one specific type of weapon.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying:
    • Many were ported from previous editions, such as the classical Sun Blade, Mace of Disruption, Mace of Smiting, Hammer of Thunderbolts and Dwarven Thrower.
    • Third Edition generalizes these with the "bane" effect (+2 to attack rolls, with an additional +2d6+2 damage against specified enemy). The "slaying" effect (found only on ammunition) instead gives a chance for a One-Hit Kill.
    • The "dread" enchantment from the Epic Level Handbook is bane taken up to eleven, with even greater bonuses than normal bane, along with a potential One-Hit Kill effect against its chosen target. Unfortunately, it's priced equivalent to a +7 bonus, making it Awesome, but Impractical, unless you're expecting to fight a lot of enemies of the designated type.
    • Holy, unholy, axiomatic, and anarchic weapons deal 2d6 extra damage against enemies of an opposinginvoked Character Alignment (e.g. a holy sword against evil enemies).
    • The Shifter's Sorrow two-bladed sword inflicts 2d6 extra damage to shapechangers, and can force one to return to its true form on a successful hit.
    • Complete Arcane introduces Starmetal, a rare alloy that's as strong as adamantine, and weapons made of it have the additional advantage of inflicting 2d6 extra damage to extraplanar creatures when on the Material Plane.
    • The Magic Item Compendium has the weapon augment crystals, which can be attached to weaponry to give them additional powers. Several gives bonuses to fight specific creatures (demolition crystal against constructs, fiendslayer crystal against evil outsiders, truedeath crystal against undead). They are way less expensive than bane weapons, and much more versatile since you can switch crystals depending on the situation.
  • X-Ray Sparks: In the Book of Exalted Deeds, the illustration for the spell heavenly lightning shows a shocked victim's skin and flesh turning transparent.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: The Shadow Sun Ninja Prestige Class. The requirement of the class is a good alignment, despite most of the powers being rather dark in nature, or mixing light/darkness (and hot/cold) for both healing and hurting. This is probably a necessity to not give in too much to the dark side, a definite risk with the peak abilities of the class.
  • Your Magic's No Good Here: When creatures from the Prime Material Plane travel to other planes of existence they find that magic (spellcasting and items) don't work the same way they do on the Prime. Some spells/items have different effects, some don't work at all and some backfire. On rare occasions, it's possible to use magic that can't be used on the Prime.
  • Zombify the Living: The 3.5 Edition supplement Sandstorm has the Dead Throne, an Artifact of Doom that brought the desert warlord Ten-Ap back from the dead and gave him the ability to turn the living into mummies.

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