If you didn't know, Wizards of the Coast released the playtest for the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons yesterday (05-24-12). From what I understand about this whole playtest thing is that WotC will be taking all the input and suggestions that we (the playtesters) provide for them into consideration over the course of the game creation. Which is pretty cool I think.
I did a brief read-through of the materials in the playtest packet. It has a very 3.5 edition feel to it. With its own minor tweaks of course. But it is a good step in the right direction after 4th edition. I personally didn't like 4th edition. It just had a bad vibe to it. It never clicked with me. I can't really put my finger on what exactly was wrong about it. All that aside I am really happy that (as of right now) they have moved back to what the game used to be. And of course the new edition,or any for that matter, will ever be perfect. Or make every single player happy but the fact that they are asking for our input this time around is HUGE.
I don't recall seeing anything about skills though. At least not like what they had in previous editions. I did only skim most the rules so I may have missed it. But from what I gathered any check you make is basically an ability check. Roll a d20 and add your ability modifier for the right ability. But that leaves out “skill points” or “ranks” which used to represent any training you may have had. So after looking at the “Abilities” section again it appears that the skills have been rolled into the abilities. Such as tying a rope, sneaking up on someone, or performing an acrobatic stunt would require a dexterity check. As opposed to a use rope, move silently, or tumble. Etc. I guess that does make it more streamlined and easier to do. It also clears up a lot of the character sheet.
Of course this is the very first thing we've seen of the new edition. And is a play test. And is probably meant to test certain things. Maybe how the different character classes work together.
Some new stuff I saw was advantages/disadvantages, character backgrounds, and character themes. I had hoped to play tonight but couldn't get my group together to try it out. Another thing was something I noticed about the wizards spell casting. If I remember correctly to cast a spell like magic missile it would cost you one of your daily spells (in 3.5). In the new edition magic missle is a “minor spell”. It says “you have mastered these so completely that you can cast them at will”. Which I'm sure means on your initiative turn. But still I think that is enough of a reason to play a wizard. Before if you ran out of all your spells and lacked any melee skills you pretty much stood around whilst your friends battled on. Now even if your daily spells run out you can still cast “cantrips” and deal some damage.