I’ve now walked two characters through Next’s character creation process and the choice is clear. I love this system. Because when I walk someone through this 1) it takes literally 15 minutes. No one is poring over a list of powers for a week. 2) I’m asking questions about the character. I can ask why your character is how they are and it has a mechanical relevance to the game. 4E was very endgame focused. I want a good Warlock, so I have to be one of these races and making these ability choices and choose 1 of these 10 feats from a list of 300. Once you decided how you wanted to end up, the path there was really written for you. Here, your background, race, class, even feats are all distinct choices that speak to a character, not an optimized to hit bonus.
The first grumbling occurred during skill selection. We didn’t really get Balance and Tumble being two different skills. No one really liked disguise and bluff being two different skills after they were one in 4th edition. I liked them being combined in 4th edition, partially because no one ever stopped combat long enough to use a disguise. Do people have an opinion on using Perform (Acting) to blend in?
I couldn’t defend making Search and Spot different skills. They’re both sight, one uses intelligence to deduce a pattern, the other uses wisdom. Since they’ve divorced specific abilities from skills, having these as two different skills makes no difference aside from nostalgia. The Tarzan/Sherlock example is great and no one wants to take two different skills for the same behavior.
The Rogue player did not take Sneak Attack. In their opinion, a d4 sneak attack was a waste of time. Taking Composed Attack was at its core a numbers decision about crossbow loading disadvantage. They can’t all be character choices.
Contrary to what I thought, feats did not have a higher perceived value than others. I thought Skill Training would a hard sell compared with Hide in Shadows which gives a skill, and TWO neat ways to use it if you have the dexterity. But that wasn’t the case.
Both players I’ve walked through this have grumbled when it came time to select equipment. In my opinion, the backgrounds and class descriptions give great thematic ideas for the **** your character carries around. I love it. The two players used to playing highly optimized characters stared at this blankly before asking (conversations separated by days) what do I start out with? People are used to being handed things. You’re a Wizard with the Orb implement specialty? You will only find orbs ever. This game really gives more choice by offering less and I love how uncomfortable this makes the optimizers.
In the case of the guy building a fighter, he grumbled about not being able to select plate mail. I found this fascinating. Because if this was a real society, some pathetic hedge knight might not have a suit of finely crafted plate. But in 4E, anything non-magic really had no value. The system didn’t care.
Also, it is a crime that WotC is not providing a saveable pdf yet. Everyone wants to show each other their character sheet. No one can. It took about a week for them to realize that telling people they couldn’t play D&D online was asinine. Why can’t I type on my character sheet too? We could when this first came out, why go backwards?