Instead of "good human male 12th level rogue," how about:"(Royal Eyes Elite Agent, advanced to level 12. Rename Aundairian Elan to Queen Fee's Elan. Eberron Campaign Setting, p. X)"I'd... find that to take up more space, while being of less use. And to be more intrusive in the article itself. "Good human male 12th level rogue" gives me some basics of character and a starting point if I need to stat him out. Given his position is one where I am more likely to be using him as an NPC who is conversed with rather than one who is in direct conflict with the PCs, the full stat block is less necessary. I'd be perfectly fine if, at the end of the article, they included a short sidebar giving suggestions like that, for those who want guidance with the stats. I think that for a brief character description in parentheticals in the article itself, what we got is pretty much ideal. Honestly, avoiding a description like "12th level rogue" out of a purely mechanical desire to adhere to a difference between PCs and NPCs... well, it's missing the entire point of creating that distinction in 4E. The goal was never to say that NPCs can't be rogues, and its silly to insist that is how things should be. Indeed, by doing so, you are only creating the same sort of rigid limitation that the change was meant to fight in the first place!
Instead of "good human male 12th level rogue," how about:"(Royal Eyes Elite Agent, advanced to level 12. Rename Aundairian Elan to Queen Fee's Elan. Eberron Campaign Setting, p. X)"
If the NPC is not meant to be spoken to instead of statted out, then little purpose is served by including the class/level parenthetical at all. Why do I care what his level is? Discussion DCs are going to be based on the parties level anyway, so I am not going to even need to figure out what his Insight, etc., is. If that was the motivation, then it makes more sense to leave it out completely (like in the previous two months' EotRs).
And my motivation is not a pure mechanical desire for separation, instead, it is for ease of use. That's why I was making earlier reference to "convention" rather than mechanical imperative. Let's say for example, that the party does for some reason decide that the talking thing isn't working for them and attack the guy. If I haven't prepared for that eventuality, my suggested parenthetical gets us into the fight with a relatively quick trip to the compendium/MB or the book in question. The parenthetical in the article does not. That is why as a DM I would prefer a parenthetical reference to an existing monster/NPC over a generic reference to a PC class and level. While the 3.0/3.5 dmg contained NPC stats for each class/level combination, there is no 4E equivalent to that.
You could use level as an inidication of when the PCs have a reasonable chance to both meet and be able to influence a particular NPC.
Having scaling DCs let's you easily figure out how hard it is to bluff a level 14 Nobleman vs a Level 3 Nobleman - regardless of what level the party is.
At the cost of a half-dozen words, I see plenty of benefits to the parenthetical, and certainly no reason to 'leave it out completely'.
Class is a fast way to give the DM a clue in what direction to go when designing the NPC for the off chance of a fight. Being a rogue can also tell something about the personallity and combat tactics.
The parenthetical includes his alignment, race, gender, level and class - all useful for both figuring out how he might behave as a person and helping provide the basics of his description.
(if he has the right book)
Granted, I over simplified-DC is based on monster or encounter level, not party level. That I generally keep challenges I throw at my players within a few levels of their actual level doesn't give me a basis for assuming that other DMs don't deviate more.
What bothers me about this article('s title):How the smeg am I supposed to pronounce 'Flfaeril'?! ;)