If you're shocked, then I can assure you I'm even more shocked.
I've had to, ahem, "acquire" the playtest pack since the WOTC website told me that my email address was already in use. I could only imagine this was via MtG or similar so I requested a reminder of password to be sent to that address only to be told that that address wasn't in use. You can't have it both ways WOTC. So, it was "acquired" instead.
My initial thoughts are that this is lovely and light and has some neat ideas. I worry though that the end product will be hideously bloated and as unintelligible as 3E, a game I looked at and decided was utterly un-runnable. If it stays this light it's a day one purchase. If it bloats, I will give it no more heed.
Highlights thus far from a quick skim.
Advantage/Disadvantage. Rolling a d20 (aiming for high) and something is in your favour? Roll two and take the best. Something against you? Roll two and take the worst. Excellent little rule and one you can graft onto any version of the game. (Oddly enough I played the card-driven, weird fantasy wild west horror tabletop game Malifaux on Saturday at Expo and this has a similar, draw two and take worst or best mechanism).It's codicified in the rules as "you have advantage" or "gives disadvantage".
Background and Theme. Rather than the hideous picklist of min-maxing munchkin masturbatory fantasy that blighted 3E, you define a PC in four sections - Race and Class (fairly self-explanatory), Background (where you came from, think of starting career in WFRP) and Theme, which is kind of a which-type-of-Fighting-Man-or-Magic-User-are-you thing. This gives you two packages of feats and skills which strikes my ageing brain has far more manageable than the min-maxing horror and should avoid what I regard as the greatest single sin of modern RPGs - chargen so complicated that the book recommends you spend the entire first session doing nothing but creating a party (Rogue Trader, yes I am talking to you boy).
Coop says - THIS IS WHY MODERN RPGS ARE TOTALLY FUCKING FAIL AT GROWING THE HOBBY. COME TO MY HOUSE TO PLAY AN RPG AND SPEND THE FIRST FOUR HOURS LEARNING THE RULES FOR CHARGEN THEN FUCK OFF AND COME BACK NEXT WEEK WHEN WE CAN ACTUALLY PLAY. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ARE WASHING YOUR HAIR NEXT WEEK? DID YOU NOT ENJOY PORING OVER LISTS OF FEATS AND SKILLS?
"For a more Old School experience, don't use Background and Theme". It says this on the character sheet. Right there. For Old Skool just ignore this shit and get on with it. Ace.
Researcher. The pre-gen Elf Magic-User has this skill. If the test to identify a magic or otherwise arcane or historically interesting geegaw fails, the character still has an idea where or from whom the answer can be found. So scenario hooks just flow out of this one thusly
"Can I identify the origin and purpose of the Jewelled Diadem?"
"Roll for it."
"Bollocks, whiffed it."
"No you don't. But you remember your old master at the university mentioning that the World's leading expert on diadem's of this type is the Sage of Saffron who lives in a hermitage somewhere in the Cripplespine Mountains. Supposedly he will only take payment in the form of pre-human relics that he finds interesting or unique."
So I've had zero interest in this since it was announced (actually, TBH I've had zero interest in this since before it was announced as the abortion with the number 4 on it had killed any interest in the future output of WOTC's RPG division) and now I really like the look of it. But don't let her pig out on the fry-ups and Lambert and Butlers eh?
On the subject of D&D fantasy, the entry list and collected downloads for this years One Page Dungeon contest is out and my entry appears to have err.. gone missing I guess. It was definitely posted before the deadline but either never arrived or is skulking a spam folder somewhere. :(