I know alot of people are not very keen on the playtest materials but I personally couldn't be happier. The playtest seems to support exactly the type of game I want to play. I have seen all kinds of comparisons on blogs and forums saying the playtest is everything from "just 4th edition with 3rd edition stuff mixed in", "a pile of crap" to "mostly 2nd edition with a little 3rd"- to me though the whole thing is extremely oldschool. Not just because of the Caves of Chaos either. Although there are quite a few "modernisms" in the rules, namely the "Core Mechanic" (the roll a d20, add and subtract modifiers, try to beat a DC) these 3+ edition rules really form a pretty simple frame work.
I really like the core mechanic approach, it is really easy for new players to grasp and leads to a much more unified game experience. It gives you a very stable baseline to improvise with, and helps to keep the game moving. Compare for instance the complicated unarmed combat rules from AD&D to a easily improvised set of opposed strength checks from the playtest.
Basic stats (ability scores) are everything now.
Simple (and totally optional) skill system.- skills are now bonuses that modify your ability score check to use the skill instead of skills being their whole own thing that ability scores modify (a subtle but important change).
I've seen quite a few guffaws about fire beetles having 7 charisma, but this consistent approach is good and also is necessary now that ability scores = saving throws and such.
Backgrounds and Themes are good.They mostly seem pretty minor but add a little evocative customization to character creation (presumably).
Hit point inflation doesn't seem too bad to me. Sure the Ogre has alot of hit points but the Dwarf fighter deals a MINIMUM 9 damage on a hit with his greataxe- and deals 3 damage even if he misses. Hit points are up all across the board- but so is damage, so overall it doesn't seem too out of whack to me.
Advantage, Disadvantage and Hazard rules are pretty freaking awesome and I'm going to be using them always now.
Really would have liked to see monster HD listed in the bestiary.
- Oh yeah, the download process was terrible. I hated it.
Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm going to try to get back into a routine.