Wizards, Skills, kudos

First off, I'm VERY glad the latest packet (12/17/12) eliminates the Vancian spellcasting system, as are my players. NOBODY at any table I have EVER run has thought it was fun or made sense for a wizard to forget a spell after casting it. The concept of prepping the same spell multiple times based on a hunch that one might need it multiple times that day is awful and it is always house ruled out of the other game systems that tried to implement it. Until this latest packet only the most diehard Wizard players would even consider using that class, but now that spellcasting makes sense the guys who usually play martial types are trying their hand at arcana. PLEASE don't put the Vancian system back in Next--I don't want to put my friends through that again.

Secondly, I'm not too impressed with skill dice. I kind of get what you're going for but my friends and I all had the same reaction to the idea when we found out about it: confusion. Even my wife--a level 0 gamer--said, "Wait... that doesn't make sense. If you're skilled at something you should always be good at it, not just randomly talented for no reason." My thoughts on it are that the d20 roll represents the fluctuating temperaments of the Fates, noblemen, peasants, or what-have-you, and the static skill bonus represents one's natural or trained familiarity with the given skill. If Next swaps that bonus for a second plea to the whimsical deities of chance with skill dice we could end up with fighters brimming with arcane knowledge and wizards bodily forcing their way through reinforced doors, and that's just not right. Leave the oddities in the hands of more than adequately odd people--the players.

That said, I am thoroughly enjoying Next as a DM, and the cannon fodder/friends that gather around my table are having a blast as well. It's a simple, straightforward system that has enough flavor to help initiate newbies into the genre, enough depth to capture the imaginations of lifelong gamers, and enough variety and mechanical gusto to appease power gamers. Fans of older editions of dnd like the throwback feel of it and 4e players appreciate the abbreviated combat. Some people struggle with having such low HP but everyone I've played with agree that it promotes thoughtful fighting and the inclusion of skills on the battlefield. I hope to post a playtest summary sometime soon that highlights the good and not-so-good points of Next as seen by myself and my players.

Well done, everyone, and keep up the great work!

A few quick comments about myself
I've been DMing 4e since its release, love its mechanics, and have collected almost every hardbound book that's been printed, so I'm deeply entrenched in the 4e camp. I don't subscribe to edition wars because I see each edition as a separate way to play a game and tell a story, but I won't DM anything prior to 4e, mostly because I don't own the DMGs for anything else, but also because it is complex enough being a PC in 3.5 that I'm afraid of the other side of the screen.
I agree with the magic and if you think about it, it is still vancian-esque in a good way.

you have a limited range of spells (so like a vancian wizard who could only have a few spells) but you can cast them more often

When vance wrote his books he did not have a game in mind (i think).

I like skill dice, attributes are persistent, skills may vary a bit more. it add a little more excitement in that you still might make it. kind of like the advantage system.

i think fighter filled with arcane knowledge and wizard kicking down door is ok, it is unlikely as strength is not high on wizard list. (but if you wanted a strong wizard, power to you). and same with int on fighters (i made a wizard hunting fighter who has int so he can track wizards).

I think attributes should play the main roll and skills should be secondary.
I think attributes should play the main roll and skills should be secondary.

I can get on board with that. What if instead of having a skill bonus/die for a trained skill you added your ability mod 1.5 times? For example, when using Stealth the rogue rolls 1d20+mod+1/2 mod, which would be AT MOST 1d20+5+2 = 1d20+7. That seems like a healthy enough check bonus to be worth something and it's completely based on his dex score. I considered suggesting to add the mod twice (as opposed to 1.5 times) but that could end up being overpowered with the potential bonus of +10 at low levels.

I could see 1.5xmod faring well at higher levels, too. The lvl 16 Charlatan with Cha of 24 (+7) using diplomacy would get a bonus of +10, which would make hard checks a little easier and very hard checks attainable. To me this would make sense since the lvl 16 Charlatan would have finely tuned his methods of diplomancy and could talk his way through even the toughest situations without too much worry of utter failure.

It might sound like a re-skinning of the skill bonus (and it kind of is) but it's not in the manner of "You are trained in Swimming so you get +3 when you jump in the pool". It's more like, "You are trained in Swimming so you are at least 50% better at it than your non-swimming companions."

Also, your wizard tracking fighter is awesome. Don't mind me if I steal that the next time I'm on the OTHER side of the proverbial screen Wink
I think skills are fine as is.  it easy to act withing and cross type, also since skills are very narrow. it unlike a fighter is more generally knowledge than a wizard if they assign there attributes in a typical way.

You are quite welcome to steal it, i stole it from one of the kits in baulder gate or an old choose your own adventure or anything.

he hates wizard, so he hunts them

so knowledge (arcane), Knowledge (forbidden lore) along with track and spot i think. arcane dabbler was handy until they removed detect magic.

I enjoy skill dice. With the number of things that character have to improve their die rolls (Skill Focus/Mastery/Superiority) plus their inherint bonuses from their ability scores, it's an easier way to determine what's going on when you make a skill check.. In discussing it with some of my players we found that it was easier to refference our sheets once for the ability modifier, and add that to the numbers on the table in front of us. It seems like a small thing to check on two numbers on your character sheet, but it makes a huge difference when you have less numbers cluttered together to sift through.

Somebody skilled at things WILL always have a bonus to that skill as represented in their Ability Mod. and the dice attributed to skills represent (for me) a shift in the skill use in context.

For example, being trained in Arcanic Knowledge and rolling your skill die; you only have a 1 bonus from the skill die, plus 3 INT, and a d20 roll of 7. That makes the check into an 11, so perhaps this particular avenue of Arcane History isn't an area you have much expertise in.
To take it to the martial side, if you're trained in climbing and need to shimmy along a narrow ledge by hand. Dex Mod. + d6 + d20. 2 + 1 + 6 =  9. The low roll on your skill die might represent in this instance an unseen crumble of a handhold, or maybe an intense gust of wind that causes you to fail the check.

Conversely, a high number on your skill die would represent favourable conditions for this check. 
Toronto Dungeon Master
That actually makes a lot of sense. Often times I'll not think about throwing a random wrench into the PC's actions so this makes for a good way to RP some ill fortune.

Thanks for the input!