My review of the second 4e preview book is up at RPG.net. As a work unto itself, it’s fine; as for what it reveals about 4e, it sucks.
I’ve been letting this 4e stuff, especially the fiasco where Wizards is trying to renege on open gaming while FUDding the masses for spin control (see many of my recent posts), get to me too much. The novel openness of 3e had briefly distracted me from the truth, which is that D&D is the ghetto in which the uninspired of roleplaying languish. So no more going on about 4e from me. I’ll definitely follow the variants like Pathfinder inasmuch as they’re creative, but now I’m remembering why I had previously moved away from D&D towards other RPGs.
Maybe some of the other posters on ENWorld are right – maybe D&D being open brought designers whose creative talent would be better spent on other games into the fold. When I think Ray Winninger I think Underworld; when I think Robin Laws I think Feng Shui, when I think Jonathan Tweet I think Over the Edge, all of which stand head and shoulders above the battle-matted abortion that D&D has been transforming into especially with 3.5 and what we hear about 4e.
You know, when I was young I played mostly D&D (although I actally started with Star Frontiers). When I lived in Memphis I ran a five year long deep-IC campaign that was one of the best RP experinces in my life (and my players still claim it as their best too.) It was in modified AD&D 2e. But when I was done with it, even though I house-ruled and playd narrativist off the cuff a lot, I felt that it was so constraining that I’d done about as much as you could do with D&D, so I went over to other games.
The D&D 3e launch hooked me in – I was very excited by the re-launch of Greyhawk (I helped launch 3e with Living Greyhawk adventures at Gen Con 2000 as one of the original Triads for the Yeomanry region) and the new openness (I bought “Death in Freeport” from Green Ronin at that same Gen Con). But I have to say, even aside from the fact that 3e to 3.5e to 4e has been degrading D&D’s standing as a role-playing game, I really haven’t had any meaningful role-playing experiences with D&D since. I have with Fading Suns, Feng Shui, and others, however.
So… Screw D&D. I’ll still follow the Paizo stuff because it’s so good. I’ll use the Savage Worlds variant of Freeport. My next reviews – Spirit of the Century and… something weirder. We’ll have to see!