Wizards is printing more Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition excerpts leading up to the release. And they’re still suckin’. I’ll rate each from 1 (retarded) to 5 (good idea!) 3 means “not better or worse than 3e.” Let’s look at a long list – multiclassing, the warlord class, racial benefits, paragon paths, new monsters (the swordwing and the phane), customizing monsters, and powers.
Multiclassing. Summary: multiclassing is dead. You can’t multiclass, there’s just some feats that let you take one or two abilities from another class, and they’re heavily restricted. They say in the article itself that “this approach lacks the intuitive elegance of the 3e system.” No shit. Then why replace it? Answer: so that they don’t have to work too hard on the base classes and worry about “dipping” and all. 1/5.
The Warlord. Derived from the marshal of 3e, the marshal is more of a leader than a fighter. Actually, this one seems OK, besides the really wonky class design and power format, but that’s not unique to the warlord. 4/5.
Racial Benefits. They’ve added some racial feats, which is a good idea. They’ve done it by taking most of the benefits races used to get out, which is a horrible idea. Yes, you heard that right. So instead of a dwarf getting +4 AC vs giants, they can spend a feat to get +1 AC vs anything larger. And instead of them getting proficiency in dwarven weapons, they have to spend a feat to get that plus +2 damage. The redefinition of the power is fine, the practice of taking it out of the core and making you buy it sucks. 1/5.
Paragon Paths. No more prestige classes, instead you are a base class from levels 1-10, then from 11-20 you pick a subspecialty that’s similar to a prestige class. Like the (lack of) multiclassing, it totally limits your options and customizability. But the paragon paths they show seem to be OK at least. 2/5.
Swordwings. A new and uninspiring monster. I’m worried that this is a monster they chose to preview, because ideally they’d choose one of the cooler ones. And this shows their over-reliance on the uber-retarded “marking” mechanic. Every damn monster they’ve showed off “marks” someone and does stuff to it. I still haven’t heard any kind of “what does this mean in game world” explanation – it’s a clear gamism over simulationism decision and it grates on me. 2/5.
Customizing Monsters. The process for advancing or lowering monsters is less math than in 3e, but it’s also a lot less rigorous – basically, “tweak it some, – 1 or +1 on everything to move ’em up or down. And use a different monster if you’re tweaking too much.” We get to find out that natural and manufactured armors don’t stack, which sucks. Then there’s some templates, which are OK. 3/5.
Powers. Explanation of the new an complicated format powers use, which appears to be designed in order to sell cards to put them on. Does every single ability a character has need a full writeup like this? Apparently. 2/5.
Phane. Another new monster. Not all that interesting, but serviceable. 3/5.
In the end – what the heck problem are they trying to solve by making fundamental changes to everything about the game!?!