Hey Aylstra, what issue of Dragon was that, with the Redeemed Drow? Can you give a little more insight?
As for me, I've browsed through more or less the books for 4th ed D&D and what hit me the most is the reduction of skills to 17 undividable skills. No more Silent Walk and Hiding and things like that, its just Stealth now. No more knowledge on various things (a separate for arcana, religion and stuff) its just Arcana now. No more Spot and Hearing, its just Perception.
What's more about what's changed? Well, no longer do you roll for HP points when leveling up, each class has a starting value and a fixed number the character gets while advancing. The only variable is the Con score you add at level 1. And that's just about it.
No more spells like we knew them, no sir. Up till 3.5 ed it made perfect sense. Sorcerers had magic flowing in their veins and didn't use spellbooks, their magic was intuitive. Wizards' magic was mechanical, they had to learn each spell separately. And what's more, the spells were the same. Now each spellcasting class has a completely separate list of "powers" they use a number of times daily, and since the Spellplague and Mystra's death, no one actually knows, where the magic comes from? The weave existed because of Mystra and Shar for the Shadoweave. Shar is still alive, so probably all spellcasters utilize the energies of what remains of the shadoweave, or something. The second thing regarding magic is that, for example, the Warlock, who makes a pact with some entity (be it cellestial, fey or hellish) and utilizes that entity's power, the wizard is a mystery. I didn't quite get into the details yet, but I'm well on the way.
What else sucks? It's no longer anyone can do anything. If you decide upon a class, there's no diversity left. You can't take on a few levels of a rogue, a few of a fighter and a prestiege class. The whole path is divided into three steps. Level one, your already above average people, 10 levels of the so called heroic tier. Levels 11 to 20 are the Paragon tier (a different class that still HAS TO correspond to the previous one, be it because of race or class) and the last, levels 21 to 30 is the epic tier, where you can become, say a demigod at the end. And this is actually very, very fortunate, as should someone create an official campaign, or submit such a campaign to the Dragon magazine and get accepted, there is a chance that a female cleric might eventually ascend into godhood, making a pact with Corellon and bringing Eilistraee's portfolio back, or simply create a new Eilistraee, like Mystra over past ages.
Drow are pussies. Should anyone want to play a drow character, apart from being cool, its not what it used to be. Hell, the drow race is even weaker than the Eladrin race. Elves as we all knew them are now divided into: Eladrin (the mystical race of fey with the capital on Evermeet, like hell it should; the Eladrin are closest relatives of drow. One of the race-related Paragon classes is the 'something-warlock of Evermeet, and the illustration shows a Lythiiri, meaning a redeemed drow with dark brown skin and white hair. This is probably the best way to go with character that continues his/her life after Eilistraee's defeat and surviving the Spellplague. If Argoth were to appear in 4th ed, that's how he would be "built" from a technical point of view.); Elves , which are like Tolkien's elves living in Lorien, or previous Wild Elves, the wild rangers living in the woods; Drow whose only reminder of the previous edition is a crippled (1 turn working only) ball of darkness that conceals only the character and his/hers closest surrounding, and fey lights, again a power that lasts only 1 turn. And that's it! No more racial protection against magic, no more levitations, no nothing apart from those two powers and the usual +2 Dex and Int (I think) elf and eladrin bonus. In short, it sucks.
What's more: Every character is alike. Remember the three types of gaining proficiency in combat? With lvl 20 the fighters had 20/15/10/5 and the wizard had 10/5. Now there's no such thing. I don't actually quite get the system there, and I don't have a clue how the fighting works. Every character can do everything and nothing at the same time. No more role-play, now it's all about fighting. The powers, the simplified skills, even the character sheet represents the new attitude. AC has 7 separate spaces that can be summed up to give the actual value. Initiative has 3 separate factors.
My 3.5 ed bard was a character capable of doing actually anything. The right combination of limited feats and a lot of skills made him a perfect spy and a very proficient fighter (with a Dex bonus for melee instead of Str, two small weapons with an extended Critical hit to 15-20 and 17-20 in the offhand) made him a very deadly warrior even under level 10. Plus he the drow racial traits made him a power not to be take lightly.
What's more? Characters are equally powerful, be it a wizard of a fighter, doesn't really matter any more. If you want to chop your way through a campaign you take a fighter. If you want to blast your way through, you take a Warlock or Wizard. It sucks.
And in the core player's handbook doesn't even include the Bard class. It's included in the Player's handbook 2, or even somewhere else.
To be continued...