Yes, please read the title of this post as either eagerly enthusiastic or sarcastically uninterested depending on your feelings about the upcoming new edition of the game.
I still feel this is the worst title ever. I'm not super thrilled about what I've seen in the first release playtest packet. But it looks interesting enough that I'm going to run a session of it on G+ this Saturday night (Korea time, Saturday morning in North America). The rules seem simple and fairly intuitive for someone like me who has played plenty of 3E and other d20 System games. I'm likely to forget some of the 4E style tactical special maneuvers of the monsters, but oh well.
I'm going to make only a few small changes when we play. As Jeremy/Oxide pointed out, they list heavy crossbows as being modified by Strength, not Dexterity. Huh? The mechanical advantage of the crossbow is all about making the user's strength not part of the equation, unlike with a longbow (making bows Str or Dex, like the finesse weapons, might not be a bad idea).
Secondly, a few numbers don't add up. The Dwarven Cleric of Moradin has chainmail (AC 15), a heavy shield (AC +2), and a -1 Dex. Yet he's listed as having an 18 AC. Even if you interpret the rule that says heavy armors aren't modified by Dex and it removes the penalty (I've seen crazy justifications that it "prevents" you from moving into the wrong spot like some sort of Mr. Bean short), it should only be AC 17. I'll likely drop it down to 16, though, just because I don't think heavy armor should make you better at dodging a blow than you are when you're unarmored.
Finally, I'll offer XP for treasure. There sure isn't a lot of treasure, though. Then again, PCs don't need all that much to level up. I'm thinking though, I'll give 1XP per 1sp worth of treasure recovered. That way they've got a chance to see level 2.
And to wrap up this blog post, continuing with the idea of XP. Experience points reward what the designers (or dungeon masters) think the players should be doing. 3E and 4E primarily offer XP for combat. So far, the Next playtest document also only awards XP for combat (yes, Mearls has mentioned XP for treasure, interaction, story awards, and what not). The subtle implication to players then, is that you should kill everything that moves if you want to level up. Yet there's also this power creep in PCs because of the fear of combat. Everyone wants to get into a fight, no one wants to die. It's really bizarre. Not a new observation, but one that percolated up into my brain again as I was pondering XP for the 5E Caves of Chaos.
Anyway, mission for today: name the various humanoid tribes, their leaders, and the important NPCs at the Keep. Then write up my own rumors list to give out to the players.
AD&D Players Handbook part 41: 4th-Level Magic-User Spells
42 minutes ago