I am still unable to download the playtest from Wizard’s site, but thankfully a friend e-mailed me a copy. Shitty distribution aside, D&D Next is looking pretty cool.
It is almost like dnd basic sans the races acting like classes. Skills are gone, as are feats (well, still here, but in a vastly different form). Each class gets something each (though the play test does not cover character creation). Most everything is an ability check. It seems rp based rather than a miniature game (which should appeal to 1e and 2e players). Things are back to being in feet rather than squares similar to 2e.It is clear that the designers want you to be able to player in the “Mind’s Eye Theater” of former editions, but tokens and minis can still be used.
Tracking a ton of pluses is gone instead you have advantage or disadvantage where you roll an extra die twenty and take the better or the worse.
Gone are the thirty “does it stack” bonuses of my beloved third. Ac is very simple, armor + dex for light, armor + half dex for med, etc. Shields add a bonus. I will be curious to see how they do rings of protection and items of that type. I remember the nightmare armor classes of 2ed when everything stacked.
Saves are just ability checks. Break the chains, str check, avoid charm, chr check etc.
Daily, encounter powers are gone. Though casters can use cantrips at will and some spells have been made cantrips, magic missile for example is a cantrip and be therefore used at will.
Monsters have xp values again. Not sure how you decide what is a good challenge for your party, but it is still very early.
Classes can be customised with the addition of backgrounds and themes similar to 4e’s darksun.
The game is simplified all around without feeling simple. Small thing like two-handed weapons just do more dmg rather than dmg and a half.
After reading it, it makes 3.5/4th seem over-complicated. Almost all hints of 4e are gone with the exception of short rests which are similar to healing surges. You can rest, bind wounds etc and get hps back between fights until you hit die pool is gone. For example a lvl 3 wizard would have 3d4 of healing to use the whole day. He could use a die at a time or one bigger heal.
There seems a return to flavor text which decreased in 3.0, 3.5, and 4th. Each monster has a great deal of flavor that draws the reader in and give quest ideas.
Looks pretty cool. I’m encouraged. I am signed up for the official play test at Gen Con, and will have more to write after that.