Looked at the initial release of D&D 4th. Was not overly impressed, but I also did not have the negative response like I did with 3rd Edition. I think the whole skirmish thing is about right and it would be fun for the occasional evening worth of entertainment. For role-playing I'll stick to my old standby; HERO.
I haven't bought the books so I could only flip through the books at a friend's house.
The core rules didn't shock me, but I prefer the overly complex system there is with 3.5 (yeah, I'm strange) which I have changed slightly thanks to the OGL.
What really put me off is the new Forgotten Realms. Wizards has made so much change that I think they have lost their personality pretty much.
And I would thank you to keep a civil tongue with me, please.
Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
Have to say that I am in agreement with Midgardsormr on this one. Some of the best times I've ever had at the table back when I played, were based on those background skills and having a way to adjudicate them. Admittedly, they don't all have to be based on dice rolling, but there have been plenty of times when some, seemingly useless skill has turned the tide in an adventure.
Of course such things shouldn't be ignored by DM/GMs, but without some way to define and/or adjudicate them, things can get bogged down. Any such skills need to make sense for the character as well and be a reasonable part of their background.
I can recall one particular instance where the other players and myself were all starting with "new" characters that had never "adventured" before. My character was a farm boy that had spent his youth slaughtering livestock for meals and wrestling with his older siblings. When we hit the first battle, that wrestling experience came in handy and, after the bloodshed, my character, along with one other, were the only ones that didn't get "sick" from seeing all the dead bodies and flowing blood. It made for a really good RP session as everyone actually got into their characters from a background point of view rather than a "mechanical" point of view. From there on, everyone developed their characters based on that background rather than "min/maxing" for optimal character effectiveness.
When nothing is going right and you can't find someone else to blame, start beating your head against the wall, 'cause it'll feel so much better when you stop.
My group tried 4e for a couple of months, then went back to 3.5. I like how they have simplified some portions of the game in 4e (such as some parts of combat), but I think they carried that simplification a bit too far. Skills were done well in 3.5, they really didn't need to be changed for 4. I have far too much to say about my belief that 4e ruined the (admittedly flawed in some areas) 3.5 magic system to go much into it. The lack of ability to create items in 4e is very disappointing as well. In my opinion, 4e has simplified things to the point of restricting players who so choose to follow all of its rules (and not create homebrew rules), we did not need restrictions, we needed some limited simplification, minor rule fixes, and creative new mechanics that made the game more fun.
In short: I prefer 3.5 over 4e
One of the third party publishers in support of Pathfinder, is one I've been reading about on the ENWorld forums, Bad Axe Games, Trailblazer. Among the many ideas brought up with that add-on system is a simplified encounter creation that is somewhat based on 4e ideas. It works especially well for a party of mixed level adventurers fighting mixed level opponents in a 3 step process, an idea that I really like.
The goal with Pathfinder is to maintain the viability of 3.5 with fixes to that system while basically remaining backwards compatible to it. I can agree that parts of 3.5 need fixed or simplified and that is what Paizo's rules set is supposed to do.
I can't wait until August 2009 when Pathfinder is officially released.